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Two arrested after assisted dying campaigner dies in Switzerland

Humanists UK Assisted Dying Protest, Westminster, London, 2020. Photo credit: Jake Owens Photography

It has been reported that two arrests have been made on suspicion of assisting or encouraging suicide, following the death of incurably suffering assisted dying campaigner Sharon Johnston in Switzerland. Ms Johnston was paralysed as a result of falling down the stairs. She spoke publicly about her wish to have an assisted death in a 2021 BBC documentary, When Would You Want to Die? Humanists UK arranged her participation.

The Crown Prosecution Service policy on assisted dying states that prosecutors must take public interest as a factor when reaching decisions.

Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell said:

‘We don’t know all the facts of this case. But we do know that the present law means that people can be arrested for assisting others to die when those others are terminally ill or incurably suffering, and the behaviour of those assisting them is entirely motivated by compassion. This is wrong because it robs those who are terminally ill or incurably suffering of the choice, dignity, and autonomy as to when to end their lives.

‘We call on the Government and Parliament to legalise assisted dying and support afford freedom of choice.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read more about our work on assisted dying.

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