Nan Maitland was a very active member of Friends At The End for many years.
During this time, she wrote excellent book reviews for the FATE Newsletter, organized FATE meetings in London, and advised many individuals, in the UK, on how to travel to Switzerland for a physician-assisted suicide (actually, accompanying one person there in 2005).
On March 1st, in her 85th year, Nan Maitland had a physician-assisted suicide in Switzerland.
Two weeks beforehand, Nan had written the following message which she asked to be sent to her "Dear Friends and Colleagues" after her death:
By the time you read this, with the help of FATE and the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep, never to wake.
For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called 'prolonged dwindling', that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.
Please be happy for me that I have been able to escape from this, for me, unbearable future. I have had a wonderful life, and the great good fortune to die at a time of my choosing, and in the good company of two FATE colleagues. With my death, on March 1st, I feel I am fully accepting the concept of 'old age rational suicide' which I have been very pleased to promote, as a founder member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS) in the past fifteen months.
Being active in the right-to-die movement, both in the UK and globally, has been an enormously important part of my life in the last few years. It has been wonderful and inspiring to meet so many amazing people who have been determined, often in the face of great odds, to help others to a peaceful pain-free death. I really hope that everybody's important and vital efforts will continue, and result in legalized assisted dying becoming a reality in many more areas of the world in the coming years.
Best wishes, Nan Maitland
Liz Nichols, a member of the FATE Council, and Michael Irwin, were with Nan when she had a very peaceful and dignified death in Switzerland last week. She was a tenacious right-to-die activist and a strong supporter of the international movement. At considerable cost to herself, in spite of pain and fatigue, she gave a paper at the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies in Melbourne last October. We will miss her greatly — both as a dear friend and as a fellow campaigner.
Libby Wilson (Convener, FATE)
Michael Irwin (Co-ordinator, SOARS)
The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill A Scottish Parliament committee is calling for written evidence to help shape its examination of the issue of assisted death. The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee was set up last month to consider the general principles of the Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament by Margo MacDonald MSP on 20 January 2010.
No charges following deaths of Sir Edward and Lady Downes The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that, while there is sufficient evidence to charge Caractacus Downes with an offence of assisting the suicide of his parents, Sir Edward and Lady Joan Downes, it is not in the public interest to do so.
The case for a change in the law on assisted dying is now even stronger Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, has commented that DPP Guidelines attempt to do in part what Parliament has thus far failed to, and that is to distinguish between where a person has compassionately assisted another to die, and where that was done with malicious intent or murder. But these Guidelines will always be retrospective, after an assisted death has taken place.