Friday 30 September 2016

Actor and campaigner in plea to legalise euthanasia so he can 'slip away peacefully'

Andrew Woodcock

Published 05/08/2016 | 19:27

Lord Rix who has issued a plea for euthanasia to be legalised in order to allow him to
Lord Rix who has issued a plea for euthanasia to be legalised in order to allow him to "slip away peacefully" Credit: Jim James/PA Wire

Actor and learning disability campaigner Lord Rix has issued a plea for euthanasia to be legalised in order to allow him to "slip away peacefully".

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In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness D'Souza, the 92-year-old Mencap president revealed he is suffering from a terminal condition and hopes Parliament will act "as soon as possible" to make it possible for people in his situation to be assisted to die.

Lord Rix voted against an Assisted Dying Bill which came before the House of Lords in 2006 because he feared that people with learning disabilities might become the unwilling victims of euthanasia.

But in his letter, he told the Lord Speaker: "My position has changed. As a dying man, who has been dying now for several weeks, I am only too conscious that the laws of this country make it impossible for people like me to be helped on their way, even though the family is supportive of this position and everything that needs to be done has been dealt with.

"Unhappily, my body seems to be constructed in such a way that it keeps me alive in great discomfort when all I want is to be allowed to slip into a sleep, peacefully, legally and without any threat to the medical or nursing profession. I am sure there are many others like me who having finished with life wish their life to finish."

Lord Rix told Lady D'Souza: "I can only ask that once again the House of Lords brings the UK up to date by allowing legal euthanasia after all other avenues have been pursued. Please raise the question again in the House of Lords so that people like me do not continue to suffer untold misery for want of a kind alternative.

"I realise somebody in the House will have to move the question yet again and would ask that my statement is read out and acted upon as soon as possible.

"Only with a legal Euthanasia BIll on the statute books will the many people who find themselves in the same situation as me be able to slip away peacefully in their sleep instead of dreading the night."

As Brian Rix, the crossbench peer was one of Britain's most popular TV and stage actors with his own brand of "Whitehall farce" comedy.

He later became one of the country's foremost campaigners for people with learning disabilities after his daughter was born with Down's syndrome.

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