Last week Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, had his appearance at a Irish University cancelled after Dying in Dignity leaders branded his advice as irresponsible and illegal. Nitschke is known for his "peaceful pill" handbook and his suicide promoting and counseling service on the internet.
Today Edward Turner, a trustee of the lobby group Dying in Dignity in the UK, questionned the actions of those who supported Daniel James who travelled to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide at the Swiss Dignitas Assisted Suicide clinic.
Turner stated that while he would like to see a change in UK law to allow 'assisted dying' for terminally ill patients, there was a 'distinction' between those cases and that of Daniel James who whilst paralysed, probably had 'several decades' of life ahead of him.
Turner had accompanied his terminally ill mother to the Swiss Dignitas Clinic. His mother had progressive supranuclear palsy.
Turner was quoted as saying:
"The vast majority of the population wants assisted dying for the terminally ill to be legalised ... but Dan wasn't terminally ill.
Although I advocate assisted dying, I'm basically against assisted suicide."
On the other hand, Baroness Warnock supports the assisted suicide death of Daniel James. She said:
"we had a 'moral obligation to other people to take seriously reached decisions with regard to their own lives equally seriously."
Link to the article on UK's Daily Mail:
My thoughts on the case of Daniel James (23) lead me to think about a Canadian hero, Steven Fletcher the member of parliament for Charleswood - St. James - Assiniboia in Winnipeg Manitoba and the current parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health.
I do not know what Fletcher would say about James's death, but I do know that Fletcher became a complete quadriplegic in 1996, after hitting a moose with his vehicle while travelling to a geological engineering job in northern Manitoba. The accident left him completely paralysed below the neck, and he now requires 24 hour a day attendant care. He was unable to speak for several months, and only regained this ability after a long process of recovery.
A comment in a blog about Daniel James said:
"So Mr James "had decades of life ahead of him" Until you have walked a mile in his shoes how can you know what it feels like to live his life. His parents may suffer a great loss but at least they know they respected his wishes.
Steven Fletcher has lived through similar experiences that Daniel James would have been experiences. He handled the adversity by rising up to become a source of inspiration for people with disabilies.
I also think about my friend Alison Davis, the leader of the group No Less Human in the UK.
Alison was in a similar situation as Daniel James. She wanted to die and attempted to commit suicide. If she had "supportive parents" as James supposedly has, Alison would be dead today. Instead Alison is an active leader of a disability rights group that supports the equality and dignity of people with disabilities and rejects the concept that equality and dignity includes assisted suicide.
James may have also become a great inspiration for others if he had not been abandoned to his supposed wishes.
For more information about Steven Fletcher go to: