My husband’s death made me more opposed to assisted suicide, says Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary
Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, revealed the impact of her husband's death in her newspaper column - LEON NEAL/GETTY IMAGES
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Nadine Dorries has said the death of her husband at home only served to increase her opposition to assisted dying.

Paul Dorries, who died of bowel cancer in June 2019, asked to travel to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life as soon as he received his terminal diagnosis, the former culture secretary said.

But setting out her opposition to the “distressing” practice of assisted suicide, Ms Dorries said her husband had eventually been glad to spend his final weeks in palliative care surrounded by loved ones.

Assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

In her weekly column for the Daily Mail, Ms Dorries said her husband told her he wanted “to go to Dignitas now, while I still can” on the day that he was given four months to live.

“In the event, that is not what happened. The process to sign up with Dignitas takes a considerable time … Paul’s short prognosis timed him out,” she wrote.

“But, as I will explain, the peaceful way he died at home four months later – surrounded by his loving family – only reinforced my strong view that assisted dying is wrong.”

Ms Dorries described euthanasia as “sudden, brutal, clinical and, I imagine, distressing for those who have to watch”.

The debate around the topic has been reignited after Dame Esther Rantzen, the broadcaster and campaigner, revealed she had signed up to Dignitas, where physicians aid the terminally ill to end their lives, after her diagnosis of stage four lung cancer.

A petition for a parliamentary vote on assisted dying passed 10,000 signatories on Wednesday, meaning the Government is now obliged to issue a response.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has said he would set aside parliamentary time for a backbench Bill aimed at changing the law.

Despite his initial request to end his life, Ms Dorries said, her late husband came to cherish the “attention and the banter” provided by those who cared for him in his final weeks.

“He didn’t die in a clinical setting in Switzerland, but at home in our arms,” she concluded. “And at the end, that was exactly where he wanted to be.”

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