Crouch End daughter calls for assisted dying to be legalised

Carmen with her mum Sandy who died at Dignitas in Switzerland

Carmen with her mum Sandy who died at Dignitas in Switzerland - Credit: Dignity in Dying

A Crouch End woman who accompanied her mum to Dignitas is fighting for a change in UK law on assisted dying.

Carmen Alkalai, 49, is urging those who support the legalisation of assisted dying to sign a petition, calling on the government to hold a debate on assisted dying.

An Assisted Dying Bill was rejected in Parliament in 2015.

Carmen with mum Sandy, who had Motor Neurone Disease, on route to Switzerland

Carmen with mum Sandy, who had Motor Neurone Disease, on route to Switzerland - Credit: Dignity in Dying

The petition, by Dignity in Dying (DiD), reached more 75,000 signatures just days after Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill fell at the prorogation of Parliament on April 28 as it had run out of time. The Bill had passed its second reading without a vote in the House of Lords in October.

Carmen's mum Sandy was diagnosed with an aggressive form of motor neurone disease (MND) in 2015, when she was just 62, leaving her struggling to swallow, walk and talk.

She died a year later at Dignitas in Switzerland, where assisted dying is legal, with daughters Carmen and Victoria by her side.

Carmen, a member of the north London DiD group, said: “My mum shouldn’t have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to have the death she wanted, which she should have been entitled to at home.

Sandy with her daughters Carmen and Victoria who were by her side when she died at Dignitas

Sandy with her daughters Carmen and Victoria who were by her side when she died at Dignitas - Credit: Dignity in Dying

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"Most terminally ill people cannot afford Dignitas. If assisted dying were legal in the UK, my mum could have died at home when she was ready to go, after her symptoms had become too much to bear and with all of her family around her to say goodbye.

“The law failed my mother. I urge everyone who supports the legalisation of assisted dying to add their name to the petition so that no terminally ill people are forced into making impossible decisions like the one taken by my mum.”

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that terminally ill people are more than twice as likely to take their own lives than the general population.

DID estimates that up to 650 terminally ill people are taking their own lives every year in the UK in lieu of the safe, legal choice of assisted dying.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “Our sympathies remain with the families affected by these deeply upsetting cases.

"Any change to the law around assisted dying is of such sensitivity and importance that this would be for MPs to decide as a matter of conscience.”

To sign the petition visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/604383