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Dame Esther Rantzen too ill to attend assisted dying debate

Dame Esther Rantzen too ill to attend assisted dying debate
© BBC
Dame Esther Rantzen says that she is too ill to attend a Westminster debate on assisted dying as she battles stage-four lung cancer.

Dame Esther Rantzen has said that she is too ill to attend a Westminster debate on assisted dying next week.

The veteran broadcaster, 83, is battling stage-four lung cancer and has previously spoken about her wish to visit Dignitas in Switzerland to end her life when the time comes - but she would have to do so alone as any accompanying family members could be prosecuted for joining her.

On Monday, MPs will debate the issue of assisted dying for the first time in two years, but Rantzen - backer of the Dignity in Dying campaign - will not be watching from the public gallery.

She wrote on Twitter: "While, sadly, my health issues (I have stage four lung cancer) prevent me from attending it myself, I will be watching the debate closely as it affects my own decision to go to Dignitas in Zurich if necessary, to protect my family from witnessing a painful death."

Explaining her stance on the issue, she has previously said: "I know palliative care can be wonderful in this country, but it cannot guarantee the dignified, pain-free death we terminally ill patients all hope for.

"The current law means my family could be prosecuted for supporting me if I go to Switzerland. This is not right, it is not ethical and, as it is my life I, like the majority of the public, believe it should be my choice."

The debate in Westminster Hall will be opened by Labour's Tonia Antoniazzi at 4.30pm on Monday and can be streamed online via ParliamentLive.

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Esther Rantzen on Newsnight in September 2022
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