Euthanasia on the increase as British couple commit suicide - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian persp

Euthanasia on the increase as British couple commit suicide - news from ekklesia on theology and politics from a christian persp

By staff writers
15 Apr 2003

Euthanasia on the increase as British couple commit suicide

-15/4/03

A British couple have been helped to commit suicide by a Swiss euthanasia group even though they were not suffering from terminal illness.

According to Swiss police

Robert Stokes, 59, and his wife, Jennifer, 53, flew to Zurich at the end of March, where they drank the poison pentobarbital sodium.

The couple, from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, were assisted to commit suicide by Dignitas, the Swiss organisation that has aided the deaths of more than 100 people from around the world.

The Stokeses, who had practised as Jehovah's Witnesses sporadically throughout their lives, suffered from a variety of illnesses none of which were necessarily terminal.

Mr Stokes suffered from epilepsy, and had not been able to continue his career as a carpenter since an operation on his brain in Australia went wrong. His wife had diabetes, which had recently got worse, and serious back pain after slipping on moss while visiting a friend in hospital.

In January 74-year-old motor neurone disease sufferer Reginald Crew became the first Briton to publicly travel to the country to kill himself with the help of the group. Five people, including another British woman, arrived in Zurich between March 31 and April 5 and killed themselves.

The number of so-called suicide tourists is becoming an embarrassment to the Swiss authorities, and alarming anti-euthanasia campaigners.

Edwin Loescher, a Zurich district attorney, said five assisted suicides in one week was "too many - it's nearly unbearable".

Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, which opposes euthanasia, said; "It certainly strengthens my view that it is very difficult to write the law so tightly that you don't get unexpected consequences. That has to give everyone cause for concern, whether they are for or against."

The couple's bodies have been returned to Britain and an inquest was opened in Luton on April 10.

Euthanasia on the increase as British couple commit suicide

-15/4/03

A British couple have been helped to commit suicide by a Swiss euthanasia group even though they were not suffering from terminal illness.

According to Swiss police

Robert Stokes, 59, and his wife, Jennifer, 53, flew to Zurich at the end of March, where they drank the poison pentobarbital sodium.

The couple, from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, were assisted to commit suicide by Dignitas, the Swiss organisation that has aided the deaths of more than 100 people from around the world.

The Stokeses, who had practised as Jehovah's Witnesses sporadically throughout their lives, suffered from a variety of illnesses none of which were necessarily terminal.

Mr Stokes suffered from epilepsy, and had not been able to continue his career as a carpenter since an operation on his brain in Australia went wrong. His wife had diabetes, which had recently got worse, and serious back pain after slipping on moss while visiting a friend in hospital.

In January 74-year-old motor neurone disease sufferer Reginald Crew became the first Briton to publicly travel to the country to kill himself with the help of the group. Five people, including another British woman, arrived in Zurich between March 31 and April 5 and killed themselves.

The number of so-called suicide tourists is becoming an embarrassment to the Swiss authorities, and alarming anti-euthanasia campaigners.

Edwin Loescher, a Zurich district attorney, said five assisted suicides in one week was "too many - it's nearly unbearable".

Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, which opposes euthanasia, said; "It certainly strengthens my view that it is very difficult to write the law so tightly that you don't get unexpected consequences. That has to give everyone cause for concern, whether they are for or against."

The couple's bodies have been returned to Britain and an inquest was opened in Luton on April 10.

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