Ill Doctor's Assisted Suicide Reignites Euthanasia Debate

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 25, 2006 | Go to article overview

Ill Doctor's Assisted Suicide Reignites Euthanasia Debate


Byline: By DAVID BARRETT AND MARTHA LINDEN

Campaigners last night renewed calls for a change in the law after a British woman suffering from a rare brain disease committed assisted suicide in Switzerland. Retired doctor Anne Turner died with the help of medics from the controversial Dignitas clinic, on the day before her 67th birthday. Dr Turner was suffering from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, or PSP, the incurable degenerative disease which killed the actor Dudley Moore in 2002. She died at 12.35 GMT at a flat in the suburbs of Zurich, surrounded by her three grown-up children, after drinking a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Her son Edward, 39, said after his mother's death, 'We are very thankful that her suffering is over.

'We will respect her choice and we will miss her very much.

'She was ready to go and that makes it all the easier for us.'

Dr Turner was at the relatively early stages of the disease and was still able to walk unaided, eat and communicate.

The PSP Association said that patients live for an average of seven years with the disease and can survive for even longer. Dr Turner first noticed symptoms in January 2003.

Before her death, Dr Turner said, 'I feel strongly that assisted suicide should become legal in the UK.

'If I knew that when things got so bad, I would be able to request assisted suicide in Britain then I would not have to die before I am completely ready to do so.'

She said she attempted to commit suicide by suffocation at her home in Bath last October, but failed.

Asked if she was certain she was doing the right thing, Dr Turner said, 'Absolutely. I am resolute.

'I do not want to end up like Dudley Moore - he couldn't walk, talk or even blink at the end, and I certainly don't want that.'

Dr Turner survived breast cancer after undergoing a mastectomy in 2004. Husband, Jack, a GP, died from the degenerative disease multiple systems atrophy in September 2002, and his younger brother died of motor neurone disease a few months earlier.

Dr Turner, who ran a family planning clinic, said, 'My three children all support my decision, especially as we have all seen the effect of a very similar illness in my husband: his terrible suffering, loss of dignity and his long slow demise.

'I don't think death has ever held any fear for me.

'When I was 18 I thought I was going to die. …

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