An 86-year-old woman in the U.K. starved herself to death because she believed the country’s restrictive assisted suicide laws left her no other options.
Former teacher Jean Davies stopped eating and drinking on September 16 and died October 1, according to The Independent, but the news of her death did not reach the media until today. The elderly grandmother, and assisted suicide advocate, had hoped that she would die within a few days after stopping drinking water, but her prolonged death, which she described as “intolerable,” lasted two weeks. During her fast, she described what she was going through to the Sunday Times.
“It is hell. I can’t tell you how hard it is. You wouldn’t decide this unless you thought your life was going to be so bad. It is intolerable.”
Although Ms. Davies did not have a terminal illness, she did suffer from a variety of conditions, including fainting spells and chronic back pain, that she did not want to live through any more.
However, the U.K.’s assisted suicide laws are so restrictive that she believed that her only options were to starve herself to death, or to go to Switzerland (Switzerland’s liberal assisted suicide laws have made the country a “suicide tourism” destination for Europeans wishing to die, according to this Inquisitr report). However, Ms. Davies was not interested in going to Switzerland.
“What alternative do I have? The other methods to my knowledge are either illegal or I would need to go to Switzerland and I want to die in my own bed. I am doing nothing wrong. We are not breaking the law.”
Pavan Dhaliwal, of the British Humanist Association, told The Guardian that Ms. Davies’ decision should bring attention to the U.K.’s inhumane assisted suicide laws.
“It is our moral duty as a society to give assistance to mentally competent adults who are suffering incurably, permanently incapacitated, and have made a clear and informed decision to end their life but are unable to do so independently. Our determination for a change in the law and the vast majority of the public who support this will be renewed by Jean’s example.”
However, opponents of assisted suicide believe that the practice is immoral and open to abuse. Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, told The Guardian that Ms. Davies’ decision is “emotional blackmail” designed to shame the U.K. government into changing its assisted suicide laws.
“It is not illegal to starve and dehydrate oneself to death but neither is it right. My fear is that this unusual case will be seized upon by the pro-euthanasia lobby to further their agenda of legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia.”
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[Image courtesy of: Huffington Post]