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UK law prohibiting assisted dying negatively impacts terminally ill: report

[JURIST] The UK its outsourcing those who want assistance with dying to Switzerland, according to a study [text, PDF] released on Monday by the non-profit organization Dignity in Dying, but the price limits those who can afford to take such measures.

The study found that more than half of citizens would consider traveling to Switzerland for assistance dying, but only a quarter could actually afford the average cost of 10,000 euros.

In October the High Court of Justice rejected [JURIST report] a terminally ill individual's petition for assistance to die, thereby upholding the Suicide Act 1961 [text], which makes it illegal to assist in suicide. The court ruled that the act was necessary "to protect the weak and vulnerable."

Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying Sarah Wootton says [press release],

This report exposes the unacceptable reality that is faced by so many dying people is this country. By denying terminally ill people the option of an assisted death at home, we are not solving the problem, just outsourcing it ... and dying people and their families are the ones paying the price...paying huge sums of money...made to feel like criminals. Those unable to obtain an assisted death overseas can end up suffering painful and traumatic deaths at home or [commit suicide]. This is not how a [civilized] country should treat its dying citizens.

The study proposes that the law prohibiting assisted dying in the UK is flawed. Those with the means to have an assisted death abroad are put through extremely difficult and time consuming process, required to be physically able to travel meaning they end their lives sooner, prohibited from having family and friends involved in the process, and frustrated from healthcare professionals fear of providing meaningful advice. The law also doesn't protect those subjected to improper assisted dying tactics after the fact.

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