Nikkan began with the Dignity in Dying campaign, outlining the proposed change the UK law.
She went on to explain the differences between Assisted Dying, Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia, and the countries in which they are legally practiced. Her timeline showed the various initiatives and laws passed, beginning in 1935 with the formation of EXIT (Euthanasia Society) and leading to the legalisation of Assisted Dying in Switzerland in 1942.
Whilst various attempts have been made in the UK to change the law, we are lagging behind other Western countries, despite 87% of the UK public in favour of Assisted Dying.
Nikkan explained that the proposed change to the UK law is far weaker than existing laws in other countries, yet it has been consistently been voted down. MPs are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents, yet they are allowed to vote with their conscience, which is often bound up with their religious convictions and unfounded fears of a slippery slope.
After describing the successful implementation of assisted dying in other countries, Nikkan focused on West Sussex, showing that 4 of the 8 local MPs are opposed to any change, 2 may support it, and 2 support it (Nick Gibb and Gilian Keegan).
Whilst the British Medical Association is opposed to Assisted Dying, the Royal College of Physicians are neutral.
Nikkan discussed the practicalities of Assisted Dying, including the distress and expense of travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland.
With an ageing population, there is growing pressure to treat elderly individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve, rather than the simplistic notion of prolonging life just for the sake of it.
After the break. Nikkan responded to many questions from the audience.
We need more talks and discussions like this.Many thanks to Nikkan for her efforts to change the law on Assisted Dying. The great majority of the public support her and it is the morally correct course of action.
You can support the campaign by visiting www.dignityindying.org.uk.