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My right to die

Watch humanist Paul Lamb describe his personal case for the right to an assisted death
The accident I had was a car crash. It happened July of 1990. And it’s cost me. I’m a C4 tetraplegic, which basically is very little movement in my limbs and means I have to be sat in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I suffer pain all the time. The pain has gradually got worse over the years but all the pain tablets I take, they’ve all got different side effects. Unfortunately. Whether it’s pain tablets, whatever tablets, they all seem to just work on one thing, making you sleepy, which at times isn’t good, because you can’t think straight, so.
I certainly don’t want to end my life now. I value life. I like to love life, so no, definitely not. But to have it there when the time is right to me. That’s what I’m chasing, not just for myself, I believe for thousands of other people that, over the years, I’ve been talking to.
To have assisted death in the UK is so important to me and, I believe, thousands of people, because it will give you the right to be able to choose the death in the comfort of your own home with the people around you that you want around you. The people that you love, and that they love you. So when I make the decision to end my life when I want, where I want, it will be probably the biggest peace of mind that I could possibly wish for. I’ve been in hospitals; I’ve seen people suffering. You, absolutely, you wouldn’t even watch a dog suffering like it.
I think it’s just disgusting that I don’t have the right to make this decision when I want to. I mean, do they think I’m not capable? I’ve got a sound mind. So, you know, it’s something that I don’t take lightly, because I love life, so why on Earth should I want to die? It’s not something I want to do. But if it becomes necessary in my mind, then to have the permission and be able to do it in the right way, it means everything to me, everything. It would take away from myself and I know it would be with a lot of other people, the worry.
The worry about what happens if I get too worse and I’m not able to do things and then I’m in the hands of professionals, telling me what I can and I can’t do. I think, you know, that’s a nightmare in itself. Yeah, it’s very scary.
Quality of life is what it’s about and while you’ve got a quality of life, I think life’s worth fighting for. But when the scales tip away the quality of life, that’s gone right out the window. There isn’t any left, and all you’re faced with it constant 24 hours a day pain. Nobody else knows what pain I’m going through, only I know what I’m going through. Only the people suffering know what they’re going through.
It just angers me. It angers me that the minority of people don’t want to change the law - the majority does - so where do we have to go to get this change? How many more percent do we need before something will be done? Well, if I can just help with a teeny-weeny little bit of upping this percentage, that’s what I want to do. I feel it’s the right thing to do. And I’m actually proud I’m doing it. So for while ever I’ve got strength, I’ll be fighting this.

Paul Lamb is a campaigner for the right to die, fighting for a change in the law to allow assisted dying in the UK. Paul was severely injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function in any of his limbs apart from a little movement in his right hand. He, like many humanists, campaigns on the grounds of personal autonomy and human dignity. He is a Patron of Humanists UK.

Question: Do you believe personal freedom stretches to the freedom to decide when we want to end our lives?

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Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

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