Baroness Cohen of Pimlico debates involving the Ministry of Justice during the 2019 Parliament

Fri 22nd Oct 2021
Assisted Dying Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading

Assisted Dying Bill [HL]

Baroness Cohen of Pimlico Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 22nd October 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2021-22 View all Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2021-22 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Baroness Cohen of Pimlico Portrait Baroness Cohen of Pimlico (Lab)
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My Lords, I support the Bill and thank the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, very much for introducing it.

The present law is unacceptable and I have an additional reason to suggest to the House why this is so. My mother, already widowed for 50 years by the 1980s, and accustomed to making all her own decisions, joined an organisation called Exit. This organisation had been set up by brave people who wanted to help their loved ones in extremis to escape and die, risking prosecution and 14 years in jail. She went to meetings for a year and then said to me and my two brothers that there was no way that she would ever ask us to assist her death. Much relieved, we asked why. She told us that she was clear that in a substantial number of cases, people who had physically assisted their loved ones had suffered profound psychological damage. They were unable to stop talking about their experience and it was plain to her that they could not get away from a continuous tape running over the experience in their minds. My mother was clear that she would not have any of us thus haunted by her death. She would manage some other way.

She died 20 years after this conversation, in hospital at 89 years old after a brief illness. However, I expect that to this day there are other people haunted by having had no choice other than to physically assist loved ones in extremis to their death. It is another much less known consequence of the law as it stands but I hope it is an important contribution to my decision to support the Bill.