British Cancer Patient Glad He Didn’t Use Assisted Suicide, Opposes Euthanasia

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Cancer Patient Glad He Didn’t Use Assisted Suicide, Opposes Euthanasia Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 8, 2006

London, England ( — A British cancer patient says he’s glad he didn’t use assisted suicide to take his own life and now he’s helping fight against a bill that would legalize euthanasia in the UK. David Williams, a 51 year-old man from Cardiff, is a father of three with a spinal tumor who considered ending his life.

Williams was diagnosed with the tumor in 1990 that left him in "excruciating pain."

"I was 35 at the time and they (the surgeons) brought me down and said, ‘In two years you will probably be in a wheelchair and you probably won’t reach 40,’ " he told the BBC.

"It was a bit of a bolt out of the blue really," he added.

Williams told the BBC that the six months after the operation he relied heavily on friends and family and palliative care.

"While I was in all sorts of pain and agony it was very clear to me the distress I was causing the family, especially with Lynne just having (had) the baby and having two children I did consider euthanasia," he said,

"It was an option at the time because of the pain," he told the BBC. "But having said that, having children and the baby I said ‘no, I’m going to fight this,’ and I am glad that I have done that."

Now, Williams is fighting a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in England. The measure is expected to be debated in the House of Lords this week.

He told the BBC he worries assisted suicide will be used for the "wrong reasons."

"And you have all sorts of other issues coming into it then and, dare I say it, families will get involved and I think it would be wrong," he said.

Wesley J. Smith, an attorney and bioethicist in the United States, say stories like Williams’ get too little attention.

"I know of several stories like this, including my last hospice patient Bob (I was a volunteer), who died of ALS and who wanted to go to Kevorkian but ended up so grateful that he didn’t," Smith explained.

Smith said he was glad to see Williams oppose the bill "that would legalize Oregon-style assisted suicide."