Patrick Stewart backs right to assisted death «

    Patrick Stewart backs right to assisted death

    LONDON (AFP) – Actor Sir Patrick Stewart has declared his wish to be allowed an assisted death. Stewart, best known for his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek, spoke to The Sunday Times about his decision to become a patron of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law. “A lot of it has to do with my age. I had a heart procedure five years ago. I was 70 last year and there is something about achieving threescore years and 10, isn’t there? “Then I had had a family member who had been very ill and quite recently I’d heard the story of an illness and a death,” he told the newspaper. He did not want to go into detail about his female friend’s death, but said she was “driven to an extreme situation of ending their life in the most ghastly way”. Sir Patrick, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease five years ago, said: “I have the strong feeling that, should the time come for me, having had no role in my birth I would like there to be a choice I might make about how I die.” He added that the choice to have an assisted death “should be a right”. The actor is one of several high-profile names who have expressed their support for the movement. Last week right-to-die campaigners backed the BBC after it was accused of “acting like a cheerleader” for assisted suicide in a documentary presented by author Sir Terry Pratchett. The programme will show the last moments of a terminally ill man who travelled to an assisted suicide clinic to end his life. Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of charity Care Not Killing, said it was “regrettable” to show a death on screen and added he was “concerned” the documentary would not be balanced. Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, supported the planned broadcast, saying it is “irresponsible not to be discussing this issue”. Sir Terry, who was diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer’s disease in 2008, said: “I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death. And I wanted to know more about Dignitas in case I ever wanted to go there myself.” Dignitas was founded in 1998 and takes advantage of Switzerland’s liberal laws on assisted suicide which suggest a person can be prosecuted only if they are acting out of self-interest.

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