Assisted dying campaigner, 76, dies at Switzerland clinic

Champagne, a cigarette and one last play of her favourite song: Assisted dying campaigner, 76, is now at peace after years of ‘endless pain’ from severe illness… with a final ‘thank-you’ to friends and medics at Swiss clinic

  • Mother-of-one Dawn Voice-Cooper, 76, died in Switzerland clinic Lifecircle
  • The children’s author suffered from severe arthritis, brain bleeds and epilepsy
  • Her life was ‘endless, often difficult and usually painful’ illness management
  • She slipped into a deep sleep and died after an IV was filled with barbiturates
  • Before she died she listened to Nick Drake’s Day is Done 

A former children’s writer has died at an assisted death clinic in Switzerland after enjoying a final glass of champagne and listening to her favourite song.  

Mother-of-one Dawn Voice-Cooper, 76, released a fatal dose of barbiturates into her bloodstream while surrounded by her friends at the Lifecircle clinic in Basel.

Ms Voice-Cooper, who suffered from health conditions including severe arthritis, repeated brain bleeds and epilepsy, has spent years campaigning for assisted dying to be legalised in the UK.

She told the Mirror her life was an ‘endless, often difficult, and usually painful, daily management of several, incurable issues’. 

Before she slipped into a deep sleep and died Ms Voice-Cooper told tearful friends and medical staff at her bedside ‘thankyou’.

The former mental health worker, who lived alone in Sevenoaks, Kent, said those who say she ‘looked fine’ didn’t understand the ‘difficulties’ of her daily life.

Mother-of-one Dawn Voice-Cooper (pictured), 76, released a fatal dose of barbiturates into her bloodstream while surrounded by her friends at the Lifecircle clinic in Basel

Ms Voice-Cooper’s death comes as campaigners marked World Right to Die Day.

Assisting suicide is currently punishable by up to 14 years in prison in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Ms Voice-Cooper said she had to die early because she was still fit to travel instead of continuing to live while her quality of life allowed her.

Her friend Alex Pandolfo, who has early onset ­Alzheimer’s and will also die at Lifecircle before he deteriorates, will now continue her battle to ask for an ‘evidenced based parliamentary inquiry into humane voluntary assisted dying in the UK’.

A proposal for an assisted dying law brought by Baroness Meacher will only be available for those with less than six months to live.

Last week it passed its second reading in the Lords, meaning it has progressed to the Committee stage for the first time in seven years.

But Ms Voice-Cooper said she thought the proposals were too restrictive. She wanted an evidence-based Parliamentary inquiry into assisted dying, with the hope of ultimately building a Canadian-style model – where those suffering with an irremediable and grievous condition can apply to die.

Ms Voice-Cooper (pictured), who suffered from health conditions including severe arthritis, repeated brain bleeds and epilepsy, has spent years campaigning for assisted dying to be legalised in the UK

Critics of assisted dying fear legalisation could push disabled and elderly people into ending their lives rather than becoming a care burden.

Final questions: What Dawn Voice-Cooper was asked before she died… 

Lifecircle’s president, Dr Erika Preisig, asked Dawn Voice-Cooper four final questions on camera.

Q: What is your name?

A: Dawn Voice-Cooper.

Q: What is your date of birth?

A: 26th June 1945.

Q: Can you tell me why you came here to Lifecircle?

A: I want an assisted death because the quality of my life is not good and it will get worse.

Q: We have set an intravenous needle. Dawn do you know what is going to happen if you open this profusion?

A: Yes the drug will go into my body and I will go into a deep sleep and then I will die.

Dr Preisig then said: ‘If this is your last wish you can open the profusion.’

Ms Voice-Cooper hoped she could show the safeguards in place to stop any abuse of the system, including requirements she submit her medical history, explain her reasons for wanting to die, and prove her mental competence.

Once in Switzerland she was assessed by two separate doctors and then taken to the Lifecircle clinic, where two people end their lives weekly.

Ms Voice-Cooper applied for an assisted death two years ago, after first considering her options in 2017 when her quality of life started to deteriorate.

At the more publicised Dignitas clinic, patients drink a lethal cocktail of medication, but at Lifecircle staff set up an IV drip which recipients operate themselves.

Ms Voice-Cooper spent her last moments with her friends and fellow campaigners Mr Pandolfo and Miranda Tuckett, where her bed was positioned in front of a window to look out at the trees.     

Lifecircle’s president, Dr Erika Preisig, then asked Ms Voice-Cooper four final questions on camera: What is your name, what is your date of birth, can you tell me why you came here and do you know what’s going to happen if you open this profusion?

As she allowed the IV drugs into her bloodstream Ms Voice-Cooper listened to Nick Drake’s Day is Done.

After a police report, which is carried out after every assisted death in the clinic, her body will be cremated and ashes scattered.

Up to one Briton a week is believed to travel to Switzerland to end their life, with the journey usually costing around £10,000. Any family members that help are then at risk of prosecution in the UK.

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