Updated: Tuesday, 25th February 2020 @ 8:29pm

Right to die campaigner: Reaction to Hayley Cropper's suicide on Coronation Street shows UK wants law change

Right to die campaigner: Reaction to Hayley Cropper's suicide on Coronation Street shows UK wants law change

By Kenny Lomas

The reaction of soap fans watching one of their most beloved characters, Hayley Cropper, kill herself on Coronation Street last week, shows that the UK wants a change to 'right to die' laws, claim campaigners. 

Campaigners on both sides of the assisted death debate have praised the way Coronation Street’s storyline has brought the controversial subject into the public eye.

Encouraging or assisting suicide is very much illegal here in the UK, and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

Yet Jo Cartwright, the Press and Campaigns Manager the right to die group Dignity in Dying, told MM that the majority of the public support assisted death and the positive reaction from the show go some way to support that.

“80% of the public would like to see the law changed so that people have the choice for assisted death. So it’s an issue that the public are behind,” Jo said.

“I think parliament is out of touch and the law is out of touch. We’ve seen several legal cases going to court in the last few years about the right to die but it really is upon to parliament make a change on this.”

Jo was impressed with how the issue was handled on Coronation Street.

“I think it’s really positive, the fact that the issue was explored in a really sensitive way and a very well done way I think,” she told MM.

“I think what it’s done is opened up the conversations in peoples’ homes and that’s something that fictional TV programmes, especially soap operas do very well.

“So hopefully it means that some people who were thinking about what they might want at the end of their life have had that conversation with their family members.

“Only in doing that can people really hope to have the death that they would choose.”

Spokesman for anti-euthanasia group Care not Killing, Alistair Thompson, told MM that with an ever-ageing population, it is a subject that must be discussed more openly.

He said: “There needs to be a full debate about this rather than focusing on a very small part of ends of life matters, which is assisted suicide.

“However we need to be talking about how we’re going to cope with the explosion of dementia that we’re seeing with an aging population.

“We need to talk about what to do when healthcare costs are outstripping the pace of the healthcare budget, how we are going to care for people at the very end of their lives.”

Alistair points out that the issue has been addressed several times already in the last few years by parliament.

“The House of Lords and indeed Parliament in Scotland and Westminster have looked at this issue in detail on a number of occasions since 2006, when Lord Joffe brought forward the Bill,” he told MM.

“They have looked at systems around the world and concluded that there is no safe system.”

Jo says that the issue must be re-addressed to stop people from needlessly suffering.  

She said: “There are people who are suffering because they don’t have a choice at the end of life and they need to address that in one way or another but at the moment the law doesn’t work.

“It doesn’t protect people adequately and it doesn’t provide choice at the end of life and they need to fix it.

“Cases like Hayley’s on Coronation street  are unfortunately not only fictional, there are people going through those decisions, taking those decisions behind closed doors and I think politicians must face up to the fact that there is a problem.”

Image courtesy of ITV via YouTube, with thanks.

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