Right-to-die granny, 86, starves herself to death

Sarah Kate Templeton reports in The Sunday Times 19th October 2014: Right-to-die granny, 86, starves herself to death

A GRANDMOTHER has starved herself to death over five weeks, claiming it was the only way she could legally exercise her right to die.

The former maths teacher said she had resorted to the protracted death because the government’s failure to reform the law on assisted suicide meant she had no legal alternative. Her GP agreed to treat her to alleviate the symptoms of starvation and dehydration. He visited hours before her death on October 1.

Four weeks into her fast, Jean Davies, 86, told The Sunday Times: “It is hell. I can’t tell you how hard it is. You wouldn’t decide this unless you thought your life was going to be so bad. It is intolerable.”

Davies did not have a terminal illness but suffered from a range of medical conditions. She spent much of her life campaigning for a change in the law to let doctors administer lethal medication to patients who wanted to die.

Before deciding to starve herself, she had been suffering increasingly frightening episodes of fainting. She feared having a fainting attack that would prove fatal and that her family would hear the distressing news that her body had been found in the garden.

In the absence of British laws permitting assisted dying, she took her life in the only way she believed was legally available to her. She was adamant that no one should find themselves in trouble over her death.

“I am doing nothing wrong. We are not breaking the law,” she repeatedly said. “What alternative do I have? The other methods, to my knowledge, are either illegal or I would need to go to [the Dignitas clinic in] Switzerland, and I want to die in my own bed.”

She feared that an overdose of medication would not work. A friend with dementia had tried to end her life in that way but had failed and was threatened with being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Davies was an international leader in the assisted dying movement. In 1997, her book Choice in Dying argued for British law to allow doctors to help patients die.

She had told her local GP practice in Oxford about her plans, and her doctor, a Christian who does not believe in assisted dying, helped treat her symptoms throughout the five weeks of starvation after consulting his defence union.

The GP said: “The defence union said that if someone has capacity, then it is their choice. You cannot force someone to eat if they have capacity.”…

NHSreality respects Jean Davies and she is a heroine..

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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