‘Prisoners get a nicer farewell’: Daughter of Esther Rantzen says she doesn’t want her mum to die in ‘horrific’ Dignitas clinic as family calls on Parliament to have vote on assisted dying
- Childline founder was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year
- Esther’s family and friends could be prosecuted should they decide to join her
Esther Rantzen’s daughter has called on Parliament to vote on assisted dying rules to prevent their mother from travelling alone in the ‘horrific’ Dignitas clinic.
The Childline founder, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year, revealed she had joined the assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland and will consider going there to end her life should her next scan show she is getting worse.
Esther’s family and friends could be prosecuted should they decide to join her, leading daughter Rebecca Wilcox to claim that her terminally ill mother faces the prospect of dying alone in an ‘impersonal room’.
Rebecca told the Mirror : ‘Prisoners get a nicer farewell with their favourite last meal, whereas she goes into some strange conveyor belt where you are rushed through a process in an impersonal room without the people that you love because if they come with you they will be arrested.
‘We wouldn’t be able to go because we’d be arrested on landing. I don’t want her to go. I don’t want her to die. I certainly don’t want her to go alone.’
Esther Rantzen ‘s daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, has called on parliament to vote on assisted dying rules, as they don’t want their mother to die in ‘horrific’ Dignitas clinic
The Chidline founder, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year, revealed she has joined the assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland
Esther’s family and friends could be prosecuted should they decide to join her, leading her daughter (right) to claim that prisoners get a ‘nicer farewell’ then her terminally ill family member will
In 2015, MPs voted against changing the law to let doctors help terminally ill people end their lives, meaning Dame Esther may be forced to go to Switzerland alone.
Rebecca said she wants to be with her mum because Dignitas ‘is not a lovely place’.
She said: ‘Mum is the worst flier, she gets nervous, she goes to the wrong gate, she always gets delayed. Imagine getting delayed on a flight to Dignitas. And Dignitas is not a lovely place. It’s on an industrial estate – it looks like a box. The point with Dignitas is that you go before your time because you have to prove a level of competence and faculty. So mum would go before she would ever choose to if it was available here. It’s not about suicide.’
READ MORE: It could be our indomitable mum’s last Christmas because of her stage-four cancer… Esther Rantzen expects a quiet one but her daughter REBECCA WILCOX has other ideas!
Dame Esther has called for a free vote on assisted dying as it’s ‘important that the law catches up with what the country wants’.
She said she will find out in a few weeks if a new medication she has been taking is ‘performing its miracle’ or if it has ‘given up’.
Ms Wilcox had earlier told ITV’s Good Morning Britain how her mother, who has also worked as a broadcaster for several years, ‘doesn’t care what anyone else says’ as she prepares to join her family for what tragically could be her last Christmas.
The Childline founder, 83, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year, revealed she has joined the assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland and will consider going there to end her life should her next scan show she is getting worse.
‘It’s horrific and she always promised us she would live forever. She’s not usually one to break her promises so we’re a little upset about that.
‘I would personally want to ground her plane if she was going to fly to Zurich but I know it’s her decision. I just don’t ever want her to go.’
Ms Wilcox also spoke of the heartbreak of watching her father, Desmond, endure a slow and painful death as he battled heart disease, adding: ‘That’s what mum wants to avoid.’
Ms Wilcox earlier told Good Morning Britain of how her family reacted to such an emotional decision
Dame Esther explained to her family that she didn’t ‘want their last memories of me to be painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times’
Dame Esther said that if ‘nothing’s working’ she might ‘buzz off to Zurich’ in Switzerland but realises this would put her family and friends in a difficult position as they could be prosecuted should they decide to join her.
Asked by GMB’s Richard Madeley if she would indeed join her mother, Ms Wilcox replied: ‘Legally I can’t say, I’ll get into trouble… but I hear that Switzerland is very nice.’
Dame Esther made the announcement that ‘I have joined Dignitas,’ on The Today Podcast hosted by presenters Nick Robinson and Amol Rajan.
READ MORE: Inside Dignitas where terminally ill patients pay £20,000 to end their lives
She said: ‘I have in my brain though, well, if the next scan says nothing’s working I might buzz off to Zurich but, you know, it puts my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me. And that means that the police might prosecute them.’
‘So we’ve got to do something. At the moment, it’s not really working, is it?’
Dame Esther said that she had discussed the issue with her family and they had told her it was her ‘decision’ and ‘choice’.
She continued: ‘I explained to them that actually I don’t want their last memories of me to be painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times and I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to be that sort of victim in their lives.’
The long-time presenter said that, if she was made prime minister for the week, she would ‘get them to do a free vote on assisted dying’.
She added: ‘I think it’s important that the law catches up with what the country wants.’
Dame Esther also told how she was looking forward to a ‘very unexpected’ Christmas with her family. ‘I didn’t think I would make it to my birthday [June 22],’ she admitted.
‘I definitely didn’t think I’d make it to this Christmas, which I am, it appears. Though anything can happen; I live in a forest, a tree can fall on me.
‘I’ve got to drop off my perch for some reason, and I’m 83 damn it, so I should be jolly grateful and indeed am.’
The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five helped to set up Childline, which provides counselling to young people, in 1987. Her daughter Rebecca Wilcox, 43, is now training to join the charity.
Is Assisted Suicide illegal in Britain?
Under the Suicide Act 1961, anyone helping or encouraging someone to take their own life in England or Wales can be prosecuted and jailed for up to 14 years if found guilty of an offence.
Section two of the act states that a person commits an offence if they carry out an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, and the act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide.
In 2015 MPs including former prime minister David Cameron rejected a Bill to legalise assisted dying.
Opposition to changing the law has come from faith groups, campaigners who say disabled people may feel pressured to end their lives and campaigners who fear assisted dying would become a business.
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