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A man with non-terminal cancer has travelled abroad to take his own life after a final meal with family

The death of Briton Jeffrey Spector is set to reignite the debate over assisted suicide in the UK.

Jeffrey Spector
Jeffrey Spector
Image: BBC/Twitter

A BRITISH MAN with non-terminal cancer who travelled abroad to take his own life has sparked debate in the UK regarding assisted suicide.

Jeffrey Spector (54) enjoyed a final meal with his wife and three daughters last Thursday before travelling to the Dignitas centre in Zurich, Switzerland to take his own life.

Spector, a Lancashire businessman, had an inoperable cancerous tumour on his spine, one that he believed would have rendered him completely paralysed over the course of time.

While the cancer was inoperable, he was not terminally ill at the time of his death. Spector was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

His family released a statement in the wake of Spector’s death expressing their total support for his actions.

“Jeffrey contacted Dignitas shortly after his diagnosis, as he was absolutely clear in his mind that when the time came he wanted to end his own life with dignity,” the statement reads.

He was particularly clear that he did not want to live a life in which he was paralysed and reliant on his family to care for him.
Earlier this year, Jeffrey’s condition deteriorated to such an extent that he believed he would soon be permanently and completely paralysed.
Accordingly, he made an appointment to go to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his own life. Whilst this was, of course, a difficult and painful time, as a family we supported and respected Jeffrey’s decision 100%.
On Wednesday 20 May 2015, Jeffrey travelled to Zurich for that very purpose and on Friday 22 May 2015, Jeffrey ended his own life in exactly the manner and at exactly the time he wanted.
Jeffrey ended his life with dignity and control which was his overwhelming desire.

Spector last week told the Blackpool Gazette that he did not believe he would recover from his cancer.

“Conventional wisdom says I won’t improve,” he said.

If I am paralysed and can’t speak, send me to the spirit world.

The case is likely to stimulate an intense debate in the UK over the issue of assisted suicide.

As is the case in Ireland, assisted suicide is currently illegal in Britain, and punishable by up to life in prison.

However, a bill regarding assisted dying, raised by Labour Lord Charles Falconer in 2014, has been discussed by the House of Lords.

Super-Injunctions row Lord Falconer Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The bill was delayed by opponents however and so did not make it as far as the House of Commons prior to parliament being dissolved before the recent UK general election.

In Ireland the issue of assisted suicide is hugely controversial, with campaigners like Tom Curran (whose partner Marie Fleming was refused court approval to have Curran assist in taking her own life) very much to the fore.

Last month, Gail O’Rorke was acquitted of any wrongdoing in the case of the suicide of her friend Bernadette Forde.  O’Rorke was charged with making arrangements for Forde to travel to the same Dignitas centre in Zurich as Jeffrey Spector, though the trip was eventually cancelled after gardaí were notified by a travel agent.

O’Rorke was the first person to be charged with assisting suicide in the history of the state.

Read: Assisted suicide could be introduced in Ireland

Read: Explainer: The facts about assisted suicide in Ireland

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