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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
'The solution is not killing - it's care'
By Jacqueline Head
BBC News

Protesters outside parliament

Several hundred people have gathered outside the House of Commons to protest against Lord Joffe's bill, which would allow terminally ill people to be helped to die by doctors.

The demonstration came after Campaign group Care Not Killing handed in a petition of more than 100,000 signatures at the prime minister's residence in Downing Street.

ALISON DAVIS, 51, FROM DORSET

Alison Davis

I'm here because 20 years ago I wanted to die. I am suffering from severe spinal pain, and I tried to kill myself several times. Doctors thought I was terminally ill.

If Lord Joffe's bill was passed I wouldn't be here today, and I would have lost some of the best years of my life.

I have spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema and osteoporosis. My spine is collapsing and trapping the nerves, so my life is limited. But the doctors are reluctant to say how long I have got because they got it so wrong 20 years ago.

Two things changed my life. One was my carer, Colin, who has been with me for 17 years.

The second was when I started supporting two disabled boys for a small project in India. Colin and I decided to visit them. I just fell in love with them. They hugged me, they called me "mummy" and I wanted to do something to help them. When I came back I said: "Now I want to live." It was the first time I had said that in 10 years. Now I am the "mother" of 550 children there.

It's a cliched thing to say but it's true, they do more for me then I do for them. They saved my life.

MARIA RYAN, 56, SHANE FREEMAN, 19, FROM LONDON

Maria Ryan and Shane Freeman
Shane: My grandfather Tom was diagnosed with cancer that spread to his bones. He was originally given six months to live, but because of the care he received, he lived another 13 years.

If this bill went through, it might put pressure on these people by implying that assisted dying is a natural route to take.

If people don't have proper care, then they will say: "Please kill me."

Maria: What worries me terribly is that if this bill is passed, it could affect premature babies and disabled people. There's not enough publicity about the implications of it.

REV IAN DENSHAM, 58, SUSAN MARSHALL, 71, ANDREW CHARLES, FROM HERTFORDSHIRE

Rev. Ian Densham, Susan Marshall, Andrew Charles
Andrew: We feel this bill is the thin edge of the wedge. We feel the sanctity of life is more important than anything.

Susan: We think more resources should be out into palliative care. If they pass this then what is next? If it comes in i believe it would be a slippery slope.

Ian: A great friend of mine died of motor neurone disease. He was a living testament to why this bill should not be in place he was sound of mind right up until the end. If it had been in place then it would have placed incredible pressure on his family.

RACHEL HURST, 67, FROM WILTSHIRE

Rachel Hurst

I understand people's fear of dying in hospital, but the solution is not killing - it's palliative care.

People have such fear of what it must be like to not be able to live normally. But life has much more to it than that. There is family, there is spring, and autumn, there's music, there's art, there's reading a good book, there's the air we breathe.

Lord Joffe needs to think about what he is setting in motion.

ANTHONY, 33, FROM KENT

Anthony
I'm here to support life and to protest against this bill.

A friend of mine is paralysed, but he's OK and everyone still loves him. I fear that the bill would mean that if he was feeling low one day, he might just do it. I wouldn't want that to happen to him.

RODERICK AND JANE MACAULAY, FROM KENT, RICHARD MURRAY, FROM WEST SUSSEX

Roderick and Jane Macaulay, Richard Murray
Roderick: I'm a retired GP and as far as I'm concerned this bill is an antithesis of everything I have lived and worked for.

There is nothing that can't be dealt with in palliative care. But maybe it is much more convenient not to.

Jane: There is just this feeling that market forces are at work, that this is a more cost-effective measure.

PAMELA AND MARTIN HALL, 82 AND 76, FROM LONDON

Pamela and Martin Hall
Martin: The reason I am here is because of the experience I had with my mother in 1989. She was in her 80s and had broken her leg. She wasn't demented but at the time she gave that impression.

I noticed when she was in hospital that she wasn't given anything, she didn't even have a drip. I was told she would die within six months anyway and there was no point in trying to keep her alive. I believe that everyone has the right to proper care.

I was completely confused and as my mother was raving at the time, I believed the doctor. She died a day or two later. It was only until a few days after that I realised I should have questioned them.

They allowed her to die. I relive those moments every day.





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