My Lords, on
Gradually, relations between them and us closed down. They disappeared into their own secret world of preparation and disengagement. Letters were returned, e-mails bounced back and telephone calls went to the answering machine. We were bereft. We had no one to talk to and, to be honest, no one believed us. When we said there was a chance that Ruth would commit suicide along with him, people shook their heads in disbelief. My wife, in particular, was convinced that it was going to happen, but there was nothing she could do and no one to advise her. Even more to the point, there was no one to counsel Jack and no one on hand to help Ruth in what must have been an absolute hell. Being the scarred Holocaust survivor that Jack was and the brilliant scientist that he had become, there was no way he was going to get it wrong. He amassed sufficient barbiturates, and both their deaths were completed to perfection.
If there had been assisted dying legislation at that time, I am certain that things would have turned out differently. First of all, we could have talked about it openly without the fear of legal consequences. We could have engaged all sorts of professional help. My father-in-law would have been able to die in circumstances not clouded by a veil of secrecy and subterfuge. I believe that we would have been able to say our goodbyes to him in an open and loving way, as opposed to being harshly rejected.
I will never be certain why my mother-in-law decided to join him. Was it for love? Was it for duty? Was it because she was frightened? Or maybe, as I suspect, they both knew that she could well run the risk of being charged with committing a crime as an accomplice. I simply do not know. But had this Bill been law then she might have chosen to live. All I do know is that my family could well have been spared a double bereavement that was unnecessarily brutal and psychologically damaging for us, and for that reason I have no hesitation in supporting this Bill.