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Dame Esther Rantzen explained main reason why she’s choosing to die by euthanasia

Dame Esther Rantzen explained main reason why she’s choosing to die by euthanasia

The broadcaster was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year

Dame Esther Rantzen explained the main reason why she’s choosing to die by euthanasia.

The legendary broadcaster and ChildLine founder announced late last year that she had joined Dignitas, a Swiss organisation for assisted dying.

Rantzen was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year and has campaigned for a parliamentary debate and a free vote to legalise assisted dying.

Currently, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assisted suicide is banned with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

There’s no specific offence for it in Scotland, but euthanasia is illegal and can be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter.

The 83-year-old therefore joined the Swiss company as a precautionary measure ‘if the law does not change in time’.

Dame Esther Rantzen.
Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

She also told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that in her final hours after flying off to Zurich with her ‘nearest and dearest’ and tuck into a big dinner the night before.

“I’d love caviar, if possible. The fact it doesn’t always agree with me doesn’t matter, does it? I could even have champagne, which I’m deeply allergic to,” she said.

“Then the next day, go to this rather unappealing place where they do it. Listen to a favourite piece of music, say goodbye to everybody.”

Previously speaking about her decision to join Dignitas, on Radio 4’s Today Podcast, Rantzen said it was driven in part by her wish that her family's ‘last memories of [her]’ are not ‘painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times’.

While chatting to Ferrari, she said she’d like her family to ‘feel that I had died happy’. However, she said the laws around assisted dying are a ‘mess at the moment’ as her family could end up being accused of murder if they travelled to Dignitas with her.

She was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
Dave J Hogan/Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Along with Daily Express and campaigners Dignity in Dying, Rantzen launched a petition demanding this parliamentary vote – racking up 120,000 signatures in about three weeks.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, told the PA news agency: “Dame Esther Rantzen speaks for countless families up and down the country, from all walks of life, who are demanding change.”

The iconic broadcaster also said to Radio Times: “The law at the moment just doesn’t work. Anyone supporting change should please, please, write to their MP. I’ve signed up to Dignitas – and going to Zurich is still an option I’m considering if my life gets unendurable.

“However, if I ask my children to come with me, so I can say goodbye surrounded by my nearest and dearest, when they return they still risk being charged with conspiring to murder me. When in fact, although they support my right to choose, it is entirely my decision.”

Featured Image Credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images/Dave J Hogan/Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Topics: Cancer, Celebrity, Health, World News, UK News