'It's barbaric': Cheltenham woman's plea to legalise assisted dying

  • Anne Jappie told ITV West Country that multiple sclerosis has left her living in "constant pain"

A woman who says she has been left living in "great discomfort" due to her multiple sclerosis (MS) is calling for assisted suicide to be legalised in the UK.

Anne Jappie, 63, from Cheltenham, said she can no longer travel to Dignitas in Switzerland unaided but doesn't want her loved ones to be punished for helping her.

She believes she should be able to choose when and where she wants to die and is calling for the UK law around assisting dying to be changed.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are currently illegal in the UK. The law prohibits anyone from helping a person to die by suicide.

"It is barbaric that people are suffering," she said. "Your pet hamster has a better chance of not being in pain than sentient, thoughtful, sane, people who are suffering beyond endurance."

MS is a lifelong condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of possible symptoms, including problems with vision, movement, or balance.

Ms Jappie said it has left her with severe mobility issues and she now has to take up to 15 tablets a day to manage the pain.

She said it would be "impossible" for her to travel to an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland on her own, but said she is worried her friends will be punished if they help her.

"If my friends were to help me, then they would face the possibility of prosecution on return to the UK," Ms Jappie explained.

Ms Jappie said she is worried her friends would be prosecuted for helping her.

Assisted dying is already legal in countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and several states in the USA.

There are growing calls for the UK to adopt a similar law, and a recent poll, conducted by Opinium, revealed 75% of people supported a change in the law.

Critics of assisted dying argue that vulnerable people could be pressured into ending their lives prematurely if the law is changed.

Dr Gordon MacDonald, chief executive of the campaign group Care Not Killing, said palliative should be improved instead of legalising assisting death.

"In every jurisdiction where the law we see the numbers go up year on year without any plateauing off. And we see that the so-called safeguards get seen as barriers and are removed over time," he said.

"We all feel sorry for people who are suffering at the end of life, but proper investment in palliative care, which is underfunded in the UK, is the solution to that," he added.

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