Rosemary Bennett Social Affairs Correspondent of The Times 31st May 2013 reports:
“A retired doctor who helped an 83-year-old man with dementia to die at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland has predicted that many more people who suffer from the illness will choose to end their life in the same way.
Michael Irwin, 82, said that, with the number of people succumbing to dementia growing rapidly, and dramatic improvements in early diagnosis but no cure in sight, more would opt for assisted suicide. He would do the same if he were in that situation, he said.
The British man who died at the Zurich clinic last month contacted Dr Irwin in January to help him to find a psychiatrist who would verify that he was of sound mind. The man’s wife made the travel arrangements and accompanied her husband to the clinic.
The patient, who has not been named, is thought to be the first Briton to end his life at Dignitas because of dementia alone.”…..
As a liberal I believe patients and the public should have as much autonomy over their own lives as possible. I am uncertain that I would be courageous enough or have the desire but if I did I would not want the choice prohibited by the law, and my relatives put at risk of breaking it. As a Doctor, I really don’t know where I would stand until a specific patient with a specific complaint presented before me, but I would be reluctant not to help… if I could.