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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"Assisted Suicide - An Inalienable Right"

Assisted suicide debate reignited

Christine & Peter Smedley
 The debate into whether assisted suicide should be legalised has been opened up again after the death of Guernsey resident Peter Smedley was broadcast last night nationwide.

The 71-year-old millionaire's suicide featured in British author and assisted suicide supporter Sir Terry Pratchett's documentary Choosing to Die.

Mr Smedley chose to end his life after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, a devastating muscle-wasting condition with no cure.

Pratchett, who suffers from Alzheimer's, followed Mr Smedley to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland, which legally performs assisted suicides.

The intimate programme followed Mr Smedley and his wife Christine as they travelled to the clinic just before Christmas. Mr Smedley appeared incredibly composed and dignified as he sipped tea with his wife and Dignitas staff before taking a glass of poison. He had earlier been taken through all of his options with a Dignitas doctor, who had to ensure he was of sound mind before he agreed to the assisted suicide.

He is then shown sitting on a sofa with Christine as the poison takes effect, before falling into a deep sleep.

Later, Sir Terry describes Mr Smedley as the bravest man he had ever met.

Motor Neurone Disease is a muscle-wasting condition, brought largely to the public's attention by Professor Stephen Hawking, who is thought to be the longest-living survivor of the condition.

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