‘Dogs get treated better than humans’, Esther Rantzen says, as TV legend demands assisted dying law change

20 February 2024, 07:00 | Updated: 20 February 2024, 09:54

Dame Esther Rantzen has told LBC why she is campaigning to change the law on assisted dying
Dame Esther Rantzen has told LBC why she is campaigning to change the law on assisted dying. Picture: Alamy/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Dame Esther Rantzen has said "dying dogs are often treated with more dignity than humans" as she steps up calls for a change in the law on assisted dying.

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Speaking exclusively to LBC's Nick Ferrari, Dame Esther says that out of her mum, husband and her dog, her pet had the "best death".

Empathising with caller James, who made the point that when his dogs had cancer, they were put down, the TV legend told LBC: “I’ve had a dog in that situation. There were three deaths in my life quite close to each other.

“One was my husband, one was my mother and one was my dog. There’s no doubt that the dog had the best death.”

Read Dame Esther's full template for the public to urge their MPs to back a free vote on assisted dying here.

Read more: Esther Rantzen's rallying cry on assisted dying: TV legend pens open letter to get public behind free vote for MPs

'I want to go out with champagne and caviar' says Dame Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther, who helped to found Childline, spoke to LBC after joining Dignitas in Switzerland as she battles stage four lung cancer.

And she has now issued a letter she hopes supporters will send to their MPs in the hope that a promise of a free vote on changing the law will appear in parties' manifestos ahead of the next general election.

She had not expected to even make it to Christmas and has begun campaigning for a person to end their life without those who help them being punished.

Read More: Champagne and caviar: Esther Rantzen reveals plans for final moments as she pushes for assisted dying law change

Read More: It's time for another debate on assisted dying, says Gillian Keegan amid Dame Esther Rantzen campaign

“It is unendurable to watch someone you love and care about suffering when there is a means of giving them what they want, which is peace,” Dame Esther continued.

“And yet the law doesn’t allow it. So many families have been through this, I think that’s why particularly older people support a change in the law, because you can’t grow old without having seen deaths among those you’re close to, friends or family. If they’re painful deaths, that memory stays on.”

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE
Dame Esther Rantzen DBE. Picture: Alamy

Explaining why she is campaigning for the law to change, she told Nick: "If I decide, as I have terminal cancer, it is a possibility that my life will become too painful, that my suffering will be too great...

"If my family are with me at the time, they can be accused of murdering me, bumping me off."If they go with me to Dignitas, where I have actually signed up just in case the law doesn't change just in time for me, they could also be accused of murder or conspiring to bump me off.

"It's a mess at the moment. What we need is people to have individual choice, at that moment, which is literally life and death."

Dying caller urges voluntary euthanasia to be legalised in UK

Dame Esther also revealed how she would prepare for her final moments.

"What I would like, if we can get our laws straight and it doesn't put my family at risk, is I'd like to fly off to Zurich with my nearest and dearest, have a fantastic dinner the night before – I love caviar and the fact it doesn’t always agree with me doesn't matter – I could even have champagne which I'm deeply allergic to," she said.