Bioethics News

Death of a salesman reignites assisted dying debate in UK

Euthanasia debate has again been reignited in the UK following the death of a 54-year-old British man in Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic.

Jeffrey Spector, a businessman, chose to end his life despite not being terminally ill. Spector was suffering from a spinal tumour, and feared that he would soon suffer paralysis. In an interview just a day before he died, Spector said that he was “jumping the gun”, but asked people “not to judge” him. “My family disagree, but I believe this is in their best interests” he said. In a statement released on Monday, Spector’s family said that he died peacefully on Friday the 22nd of May: “Jeffrey ended his own life in exactly the manner and at exactly the time he wanted.”

Representatives from both sides were quick to comment on Spector’s death.

Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing said: “This tragic case illustrates the dangers of legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia in Britain.”

“The vast majority of people with cancer or quadriplegia (which was a risk but not a present reality for this man) actually do not wish to kill themselves but rather want support and care to go on living as comfortably as possible for as long as possible”.

Jane Nicklinson, whose husband Tony died in 2012 days after losing a seven-year High Court battle to be allowed to end his own life legally, said Mr Spector reminded her of her former partner’s plight.

She said: “This man sounds so much like Tony. He did not want to end up in a situation that Tony had to endure every day and I can understand why he did what he did, so well.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.