‘Dad deserved a better death’

Harry and Paul Blomfield
Harry and Paul Blomfield
0
Have your say

A Sheffield MP is backing a new bid to change the law on assisted dying after his terminally ill dad tragically took his own life.

Paul Blomfield said his father Harry, aged 87, ‘deserved a better death’ than taking an overdose and gassing himself in the garage of his Sheffield home.

The former RAF pilot and businessman, of Dore, made the decision after he was diagnosed with inoperable and untreatable lung cancer.

Mr Blomfield has vowed to back the parliamentary Bill from Lord Falconer, which seeks to legalise the choice of assisted dying for mentally competent, terminally ill adults and prevent ‘prolonged suffering’.

The Sheffield Central MP told The Star: “I think it is right to give terminally ill people the opportunity to determine how and when they go. It’s something my dad was in support of. He lived to the grand old age of 87 but saw friends die without dignity and he always used to say ‘I wouldn’t want that to happen to me’.”

Critics of assisted dying, which is legal in other countries, say it takes away the time relatives would spend with ill loved ones.

There are currently no safeguards protecting people from prosecution if they provide compassionate amateur assistance to help people die – but the new bill would protect families in such cases.

Mr Blomfield, who said it was still a ‘painful’ subject for him to talk about, believes changing the law would allow families to spend more time together and to say farewell.

Several people have been in touch with him to speak about their relatives ‘agonising’ and ‘miserable’ deaths after he raised the issue in Parliament previously.

He added: “I think it is the right thing but it was certainly brought home very forcefully by my personal experience as my father chose to execute that right.

“If the law was different he would have been able to discuss his plans with us, but he couldn’t because we would have been assisting him.

“He deserved a better death.

“He wasn’t afraid of the pain, he just wanted to die with dignity.

“What Lord Falconer’s bill does is give doctors the opportunity to prescribe life ending drugs so the patient can administer them at a point they choose. It doesn’t give doctors any more power.

“It is a very modest proposal which is well supported and I think politicians are ahead of the curve on this one.”

The bill had its first reading last month and is set to be debated at a second reading in Parliament before the summer recess.