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Ministers urged not to approve euthanasia

23 June 2001

Ministers urged not to approve euthanasia Westminster, 23 June 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has urged government ministers not to be swayed by a request for euthanasia from a woman with motor neurone disease. Mrs Diane Pretty, 42, of Luton, Bedfordshire, sent a message to the prime minister through a letter written by her husband. Alison Davis, coordinator of the handicap division of SPUC, said: "It is understandable that Mrs. Pretty does not want to suffer any more. However, it is possible to achieve this without resorting to euthanasia. Her husband speaks of her fear of dying by choking or suffocation, which makes their most urgent need that of being told the truth about motor neurone disease. Dr. Nigel Sykes of St. Christopher's Hospice, London, has cared for more than 300 patients with the disease and none has died of suffocation or choking. The answer to Mrs. Pretty's fears is not killing but good palliative care. "Acceding to Mrs Pretty's request would send out a very negative message to people like me who have severe disabilities and suffer a lot of pain. It would suggest that society viewed our lives as not worth living, and that death was the right solution to human suffering. "At a time when there is a parliamentary campaign to legalise euthanasia, it is vital that government ministers are not swayed by her appeal, however emotive it might be. "Real compassion lies in caring for those in pain. It would only add to my own suffering and pain if I thought my carers were simultaneously wondering whether my life was really worth living, and weighing up whether to end my life. That would be the ultimate terror, and is the very opposite of the compassion that Mrs. Pretty really wants."

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