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Terminally ill man wants politicians to 'step into my shoes'

Roch Maher is among those preparing to vote for the last time and has appeared in a new video calling for assisted dying to be legalised

Roch Maher, of Hounslow, appears in a new video calling for assisted dying to be legalised

A terminally ill man from west London appears in a video calling for people like him to be allowed to choose when they die.

Roch Maher, of Hounslow, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2009. He can no longer walk, he has to sleep with a ventilator and his health is gradually deteriorating.

The 51-year-old father-of-two is one of several terminally ill people making moving testimonies on film as they prepare to vote, probably for the last time, in the upcoming general election.

They all want the next government to pass a new assisted dying act which they say would enable them and others in their position to end their lives with dignity.

The 'My Last Vote' video was produced by the campaign group Dignity in Dying, to tie in with a new poll showing 82% of respondents support the legalisation of assisted dying, with only 12% opposed.

Mr Maher says in the film how he fears ending up as a "bag of skin in the bed", and does not want his children to remember him as a "wreck".

"It's going to affect everybody at some stage but the people that it affects at the time will always be a minority and it is disappointing for me that it is not seen as an important issue for politicians to get behind," he adds.

My Last Vote

He said: "I am comforted that it has cross-party support but the next parliament has to address this issue. I would like people, when they make decisions about the circumstances I am in, to try and step into my shoes.

"Assisted dying would be a great comfort. At the moment I have no control and face a future of deterioration but if I had the ability to bring that life to an end when it became intolerable, the anxiety about the end of my life would be taken away and I would be far happier, and those around me would be far happier too."

Populus quizzed more than 5,000 people in what Dignity in Dying said was the largest ever poll conducted on the subject.

It found 53% of respondents would think more positively about an MP who supported assisted dying, while only 10% would think more negatively.

More than half said they would break the law to help a loved one die if they were terminally ill and suffering - an act which currently carries a jail term of up to 14 years.

Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, which would allow mentally competent terminally ill adults to request life-ending medication from a doctor, has already been debated in the House of Lords but has yet to go before MPs in the Commons.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: "Politicians need to listen to the public who overwhelmingly support the proposals put forward by Lord Falconer, which seeks to give choice to dying people.

"The powerful advocates for change featured in My Last Vote represent the 82 per cent of the public who want an assisted dying law.

"With one Briton a fortnight travelling abroad to die, and a further 300 terminally ill people taking their own lives behind closed doors in the UK, it is imperative that Parliament no longer turns a blind eye to this issue or a deaf ear to the terminally ill people in 'My Last Vote' who want politicians to give them choice at the end of life."

You can watch 'My Last Vote' online.

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