Before his death at Dignitas in Switzerl&, Geoff Whaley talked openly about his decision lớn have sầu an assisted death rather than endure the final stages of motor neurone disease.

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But what is assisted dying? How is it different from euthanasia or assisted suicide? And are any of these deaths legal in the UK?

Euthanasia is the act of intentionally ending a life khổng lồ relieve suffering - for example a lethal injection administered by a doctor.

However, last year, the UK Supreme Court ruled that legal permission would no longer be needed lớn withdraw treatment from patients in permanent vegetative sầu state.

The NHS says withdrawing life-sustaining treatment can be part of good palliative sầu care & should not be confused with euthanasia.

In năm nhâm thìn in the Netherlands - where euthanasia is legal - Mark Langedijk was granted life-ending treatment after years of suffering from alcoholism, depression and anxiety.

"For me its very important to lớn make sure that everyone knows we did everything và some people just aren't curable," his brother, Marcel, told the Đài truyền hình

Media caption, 'We are made to lớn look like we ended it because it was convenient ... this was in no way convenient'

This can include providing someone with strong sedatives with which lớn kết thúc their life or buying them a ticket khổng lồ Switzerland (where assisted suicide is legal) to lớn end their life.

The Suicide Act 1961 makes it illegal lớn encourage or assist a suicide in England & Wales. Those found guilty of the offence could face up to lớn 14 years in prison. Similar laws also exist in Northern Irelvà.

It is not uncomtháng for police lớn interview relatives after a loved one has ended their life at Dignitas.

And in fact, Geoff Whaley's wife Ann, was interviewed under caution before they left the country - after police were made aware of his intentions.

In Scotl& there is no specific offence of assisted suicide but those who bởi help someone lớn die could be charged with general offences such as murder, culpable homicide or reckless endangerment.

The chiến dịch group Dignity in Dying wants a law allowing assisted dying. In contrast lớn euthanasia and assisted suicide, assisted dying would apply lớn terminally ill people only.

The group says people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to lớn have a choice over the manner & timing of their imminent death.

There would be legal safeguards, and patients would have to lớn meet strict criteria, it says, before they were given the option of taking life-ending medication and dying peacefully at trang chính.

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At present, in the UK, it is possible lớn make an advance decision or an advance directive sầu to lớn refuse a specific type of treatment in the future if you thua kém capacity to lớn make the decision for yourself.

Image source, Getty Images

He fought a legal battle with the Supreme Court khổng lồ be allowed medical assistance to die when he has less than six months to live.

"The only option I currently have sầu is lớn remove sầu my ventilator and effectively suffocate khổng lồ death under sedation," he said, adding: "To me this is not acceptable."

Image source, PA

Right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy had lived with primary progressive multiple sclerosis for almost trăng tròn years.

She described the pain of her disease as "never-ending" and had hoped lớn travel khổng lồ Dignitas to lớn kết thúc her life, fighting a legal battle to clarify whether her husb& would be prosecuted for helping her travel lớn Switzerlvà.

Speaking to lớn the she said: "It's not a matter of wanting lớn kết thúc my life, it's a matter of not wanting my life to be this."

While there have been several high-protệp tin legal battles fought by right-to-die campaigners, several groups believe sầu the laws around all forms of assisted death should remain the same.

The Care Not Killing alliance argues that any change to the law would result in elderly or vulnerable people worried about being a financial burden feeling under greater pressure to lớn over their lives.

Disability Rights UK opposes a change in the law arguing that the choice to die could be "an illusory choice" if disabled people are not offered proper tư vấn.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says that improvements in palliative care allow patients to die with dignity but that assisted death should not be legalised in the UK in any form.

The organisation argues that legalisation would go against "the ethics of clinical practice, as the principal purpose of medicine is lớn improve patients' unique of life, not khổng lồ foreshorten it".

Politicians have been reluctant to legalise forms of assisted suicide. In năm ngoái, Labour MPhường Rob Marris introduced a law that would have sầu allowed some terminally ill adults lớn end their lives with medical supervision but the House of Commons rejected his bill by 330 votes lớn 118.

Research by Dignity in Dying found that there is an average of 14,800 internet searches of "Dignitas" every month from the UK.

In năm trước, a Freedom of Information request to Directors of Public Health found that approximately 7% of suicides in Englvà involve sầu people who are terminally ill - that's 300 suicides every year.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Canadomain authority, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while assisted suicide is permitted in Switzerlvà.

In Oregon assisted dying has been legal for terminally ill, mentally competent adults since 1997. Since then other states have introduced similar laws including Washington, California và Hawaii.

If you've been affected by issues in this article, help & tư vấn is available via the kích hoạt Line.

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