'I saw the fear in my mum's eyes': Daughter joins campaign for assisted dying

Louise Smith
Louise Smith
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A Northampton woman is backing a campaign for assisted dying and urging people to join her at a public event next week.

Louise Smith, 35, from Grange Park, is encouraging local people to join a new group in support of a campaign to allow terminally ill people to die with dignity. The group meets for the first time on Wednesday June 28 at 6.30pm at The Deco in Northampton and anyone is welcome to attend.

Louise, along with other Northamptonshire people, is supporting Dignity in Dying in calling for assisted dying to be legalised so that terminally ill people are given choice and control over their death.

Their first meeting will give people the opportunity to learn more about the campaign from campaign support officer Fran Hall, as well as hearing from people with personal experience of the issue and to brainstorm ideas for campaigning in the area.

Mother-of-one, Louise, lost her mother earlier this year to an incurable lung disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, and has been passionate about the cause ever since.

“After seeing mum suffer I had to act. She suffered because she wasn’t given any options. Her choices in her care didn’t exist.

“I saw the fear in my mum’s eyes more than once. She used to ask ‘when will it happen to me?’ She was an ex-senior carer herself in a residential home for over 30 years, so she knew exactly what was coming. Nothing is more harrowing than to witness unnecessary suffering and pain. I’ll never forget that.

“I think that assisted dying should be an option, without question. Why wouldn’t you want to help your loved ones in their final months, weeks or days? Why should anyone get to decide your last dying wishes, or your choice of care? You should have the chance at leave this earth in peace, with a chance to feel safe, without fear, not on your own, not against your wishes.

“The meeting is a way to feel proactive, informed and up-to-date with the latest laws – it also presents the opportunity to help change the future of either our own or other people’s last and most important decision they get to make – which sadly isn’t a choice at present.

“It’s a chance to support one another and gain strength in numbers to campaign for a change in the law.”

Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults with less than six months to live to have the option of a safe, legal assisted death. The organisation is currently supporting the Noel Conway vs Ministry of Justice case, in which Noel, a 67-year-old man with terminal motor neurone disease, is challenging the blanket ban on assisted dying in the UK.

Noel said: “I know I am going to die, but how and when should be up to me. To have the option of an assisted death available in this country would provide me and countless others with great reassurance and comfort. It would allow me to decide when I am ready to go, rather than be forced into a premature death by travelling to Dignitas at great emotional and financial cost, or to suffer a traumatic, drawn out death at home.”

Dignity in Dying currently has 27 local groups around the country, of which Northampton is one of the newest, covering around 150 constituencies across the UK. The largest ever poll on assisted dying found that 82 percent of the public were in support of a change in the law.