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Terminally ill man issues assisted death plea to MSPs

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Terminally ill man issues assisted death plea to MSPs

A terminally ill man who travelled to assisted suicide centre Dignitas to die has sent a final plea to MSPs to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

Richard Selley, from Perth, was due to end his own life on Friday at the centre in Switzerland.

In a video released on the same day by Dignity in Dying Scotland, the former headteacher has called on MSPs to support an assisted dying bill so that other terminally ill people can have the option to die on their own terms at home.

Selley, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in March 2015, said: “I hope that members of the Scottish Parliament support an assisted dying bill in the future.

“I think the momentum for a change in the law is growing. It will be too late for me, but I hope that sometime soon, people in my position will have the choice to have a peaceful death at a time of their choosing.”

In his final video, Selley also spoke of his reasons for seeking an assisted death overseas and the personal and financial cost this has resulted in.

“Since my diagnosis with MND four years ago, I have lost the ability to walk, talk and swallow,” he said. “I have also lost most of the power in my arms. Despite these losses, I have tried very hard to remain positive and my palliative care has been outstanding.

“However, as I enter the final stage of my journey, I don’t wish to suffer for much longer so I am seeking an assisted death with Dignitas.

“Despite what some people think, Dignitas do not let people simply fly to Zurich, knock on their door and ask to die.

“I have already had to compose letters, write a life story and obtain medical records that prove that I am terminally ill. This has been stressful, particularly as my GP was advised to refuse my request for an up-to-date medical report.

“Having assisted dying available in Switzerland is welcome, but it will cost me about £10,000. I am fortunate that I can afford this, but most people cannot.

“Having to be able to fly means that I am choosing to die earlier than I would prefer. If an assisted death was possible in Scotland, I would be able to die at a time of my choosing, at home.”

Earlier this week, Dignity in Dying Scotland published new research which revealed that 11 Scottish patients a week will suffer as they die, despite access to the best palliative care.

The report also stated that only 14 per cent of the Scottish healthcare professionals surveyed believe there are currently sufficient options to give dying people control over their death, and just six per cent of people think the ban on assisted dying is working well.

Ally Thomson, director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, said: “Richard and his wife Elaine have shown immense bravery and dignity in sharing their story and speaking out about the injustice they have both suffered under Scotland’s outdated, broken law in their final weeks together.

“The outpouring of support they have received from members of the public and parliamentarians has been overwhelming, but not surprising – almost nine in ten Scots support a change in the law to allow terminally ill, mentally competent people the choice of an assisted death, subject to strict safeguards.

“As Richard points out in his final message, he has received outstanding palliative care.

“But it is simply not enough to guarantee him the swift, peaceful and dignified death he wants.”

She added: “In the face of stories like Richard Selley’s, this new evidence, and an ever increasing number of jurisdictions around the world embracing assisted dying, it is imperative that Parliamentarians act.

“We echo Richard’s calls for an assisted dying bill in Scotland which, alongside continuing investment in and improvements to palliative care, would improve the lives and deaths of a great many terminally ill Scots.

“If we are serious about improving end of life care in this country and ensuring that everyone has the death that’s right for them, assisted dying must be part of the conversation.”

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