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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 18:28 GMT
Euthanasia comment sparks anger
Baroness Warnock pictured in 1990
The baroness says retirement homes are a waste of money
A medical ethics expert has said she would consider euthanasia if she became a "nuisance" in old age, sparking anger among charities for older people.

Baroness Mary Warnock told the Sunday Times: "One of the things that would motivate me is I couldn't bear hanging on and being such a burden on people."

While her stance was applauded by pro-euthanasia activists, Age Concern labelled the remarks "outrageous".

A spokeswoman for the charity said the elderly should not be seen as a burden.

The baroness, who is 80 years old, said she would not go into a retirement home, saying they are a "terrible waste of money that my family could use far better".

We should be looking at ways of improving the system rather than blaming older people
Age Concern

She told the paper: "In other contexts, sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good.

"I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance."

But the Age Concern spokeswoman disagreed, saying: "The current system of care is chronically under-funded and we should be looking at ways of improving the system rather than blaming older people."

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) believe her comments are part of a shift in public opinion.

Baroness Warnock had been part of a Lords committee which opposed euthanasia over a decade ago.

VES spokesman Mark Slattery said: "The baroness's view is highly thought of and is likely to be very influential."

The baroness, who is also a philosopher, sat on several committees investigating medical ethics during the 1980s and 1990s.

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