In New York

In New York

Saturday, 12 September 2015

"What do We Want?" "Choice!"

Outside Parliament yesterday the mood in the supporters camp was optimistic and determined. We arrived to a sea of pink, delighted to see that Roch featured on a number of placards, borne by enthusiastic fellow supporters of a change in the law. After greeting our Dignity in Dying friends, we donned our pink campaign tee shirts and chose placards before joining the throng. Across the way opponents gathered. An enormous and ludicrous inflated effigy towered above them, depicting a Judge wielding a syringe. If anything could underline for me the ignorance and scare mongering of their campaign, well, that was it. Poor, crude and, unsurprisingly inaccurate. Again, depressingly, it seems the opposition are there to demonstrate against a law which is not being proposed. Have they even read the Assisted Dying Bill? If you oppose it, fine, but at least know what you’re arguing against.

It’s simple. It’s about the right for terminally ill adults (that’s right, adults who are DYING not people who are healthy and want to end their lives, not disabled people – unless they are also terminally ill)  who are judged to be mentally competent (this is to protect vulnerable people) to have a CHOICE about the manner and time of their death.

Palliative care in this country is excellent but it is not enough in every case, as the families of people who have died a lingering death in agony will attest. Why do we need a change in the law? Ask the families of those who have been forced to travel abroad (not everyone can afford this) for an assisted death, while they are physically able to make the journey and therefore forced to die too soon; or the families of the dying adults who decide to take their own lives, alone, for fear of the consequences for their loved ones. How any thinking, feeling human being can oppose this is beyond me.

"The LAW is broken. FIX IT!"

Our chant was simple:

“What do we want?”           


“When do we want it?”


But it was not to be. Still there will be no Choice. Although 82% of the public support a change in the law on assisted dying for terminally ill adults, our MPs (not my MP) voted overwhelmingly against a change in the law. We are gutted by the result of the Commons vote, but the campaign will continue and we will continue to support it.

Tom, me, Roch and fellow supporter with a 'Roch' placard.
Me and Amelia. News of the vote soon wiped the smiles off our faces. 

Many thanks to all who came out on the day to support a change in the law and to those at Dignity in Dying who looked after us so well and continue to support us. If you feel you don’t know enough and would like to know and understand the issue more fully, please visit the Dignity in Dying website at:


Our journey to Westminster was thankfully almost completely stress free. Bus first (where the bus driver insisted I pay, although I had Roch’s Disabled travel pass and should travel free as his carer). Then arrival at Hounslow East tube station where two friendly staff members arranged for a ramp onto the train and called ahead to Green Park station. While we waited with them on the platform, we were treated to a rare piece of comedy, as we observed them very carefully remove a poster on the platform wall. We then watched, stunned as they proceeded to replace it with  – another poster identical to the first! Very Stan and Ollie...

Arriving at Green Park we expected to be met by staff but the platform where our carriage stopped was level with the train so Roch disembarked without incident. Mental note: no staff assistance needed at Green Park as long as you are disembarking from the correct carriage.

We joined the crowds making their way through the subway to the Jubilee line and after two lift journeys, arrived on the blissfully disabled friendly Jubilee line platform. Roll on, roll off. One stop to Westminster.

Nearly there!

The journey back was similarly stress free (apart from one hairy moment when Roch’s chair got stuck between the door of the train and the pole inside the carriage).  Thanks to station staff at Westminster, Green Park and Hounslow East who were on point with guidance and practical help every step of the way.

It really makes you grateful to have two working legs.