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Dame Esther Rantzen has joined Dignitas

Dame Esther Rantzen, a renowned 83-year-old journalist, has candidly shared her emotional journey and the heart-wrenching decision to register with Dignitas, the physician-assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. This revelation comes amidst her ongoing battle with stage four lung cancer.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, assisted suicide remains illegal, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to 14 years. Critics of assisted dying express concerns that it could lead to individuals ending their lives for fear of becoming burdens on their families.

In a recent interview, Dame Esther reflected on her unexpected survival beyond her birthday and into the Christmas period, a time that she had not anticipated seeing. She opened up about the challenging choice to join Dignitas, a decision profoundly influenced by her desire to spare her loved ones the distress of witnessing her endure a painful demise.

Dame Esther emphasized the impact of her decision on her family’s memories, stating, “I have joined Dignitas. I thought, well, if the next scan says nothing’s working I might buzz off to Zurich but it puts my family and friends in a difficult position as they would want to go with me. The police might prosecute them. My family say it’s my choice. I explained to them that I don’t want their last memories of me to be painful. If you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times.”

In a candid conversation on The Today Podcast on BBC Sounds, when asked what she would do as Prime Minister, Dame Esther expressed her support for a free vote on assisted dying, underscoring the need for the law to align with public opinion.

Earlier this year, Dame Esther publicly disclosed her lung cancer diagnosis, revealing that the cancer had spread. She is currently undergoing various tests to determine the most effective treatment. In a heartfelt statement, she expressed gratitude for the love and support she has received from her family and friends throughout her life, highlighting the joy and inspiration they have brought her.

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