In a society where we have been brought up to take personal responsibility for our lives, many people feel that they are the ones best able to make decisions about their death too.
MDMD is a right to die campaign organisation which wants to see a more compassionate approach to dying in the UK, including giving people the legal right to a medically assisted death if that is their persistent wish. We believe that people should have more control over the manner and timing of their death in order to minimise their mental and physical suffering. To us it seems perfectly reasonable for people to decide that “enough is enough”. They should not be expected to “fight on until the bitter end” by well-meaning medical professionals, friends or relatives, if that is not what they wish for themselves. While good palliative care can help in many situations, it can not relieve suffering due to mental decline, loss of dignity, and feelings of “just wanting to go to sleep and not wake up” when someone rationally accepts that their life is complete.
MDMD contributes to the public discussion of right to die issues. We work alongside other organisations such as FATE, Humanists UK and Dignity in Dying, to expose the inadequacies of the current law and to help define a safe, broad, workable alternative. In particular, we provide a forum for those who share our belief that assisted dying should not be restricted to the “terminally ill” especially when this is interpreted as having a medical prognosis of 6 months or less to live.
Find out more about what MDMD does and us as an organisation by clicking on the subsections below:
To campaign for a change in the law in the UK to allow medical assistance to die to be given to mentally competent adults, with incurable health problems that result in their perceived quality of life falling permanently below the level they are able to accept, providing this is their own persistent request.
Chair – Trevor Moore
|Trevor Moore spent much of his professional career as a partner in a City law firm, followed by several years as a consultant and freelance speaker. In the course of his current work as a humanist celebrant, he often meets people who are approaching the end of life. That experience, as well as meeting grieving families after someone has died, has deepened his interest in end of life matters. He has recently co-edited Words in Pain, the letters of a terminally ill woman from the early twentieth century described by The Times as ‘a right to die pioneer’. Trevor Moore also serves as a schools panel member for the Faith and Belief Forum, and has worked with small charities in finding solutions for the issues they face.|
Director of Finance – Robert Ince
|Robert Ince trained as an engineer and spent his professional career in the international oil industry, with a short time in banking. Subsequently, he became Treasurer and then Convenor of the Unitarian church. He is currently President of the International Association for Religious Freedom – the world’s oldest interfaith organisation and chair of a number of other charities.|
Director of Membership – Claire Macdonald
Claire Macdonald started and ran a chain of children’s nursery schools. She has been a founder trustee of a family support charity, an independent school governor and an Independent Monitor of one of Her Majesty’s Prisons. Claire believes in personal autonomy and that it is ethical and compassionate to legalise medically assisted death, for mentally competent adults whose suffering has become more than they can endure.
Associate Campaign Director – Carrie Hynds
Carrie Hynds serves as the Co-Chair of the UK and Channel Island’s Assisted Dying Coalition. Carrie first got involved in assisted dying campaigning in 2015, and she is a passionate advocate of individual autonomy. She works as a freelance editor and proofreader based in Brighton & Hove, and stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hove in May 2017. Through MDMD she looks forward to working together to secure a much-needed change in the law.
Associate Campaign Director – Ruth Eyre-Pugh
|Having worked in veterinary private practice and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps Ruth Eyre-Pugh is now retired and currently the Director of Bridal Re-Dress Ltd, a company which she set up in 2005. Since her father’s death in 2015, Ruth has self-published a book and written two academic papers about end of life issues which have been published on our MDMD website. Ruth is passionate about the right to autonomy and dedicated to representing MDMD supporters in our bid to change the law about assisted dying.|
Associate Campaign Director – Colin Brewer
Colin Brewer MB.MRCS.DPM, formerly directed the Westminster Hospital’s alcoholism unit and the Stapleford Centre. In 2015 he co-published the book “I’ll See Myself Out, Thank You”, in which he admitted to conducting mental capacity assessments for six British citizens hoping to end their life in Switzerland. His forthcoming book “Let Me Not Get Alzheimer’s Sweet Heaven”, to be published later this year, explores the dilemma of dementia and assisted dying. He has previously served as a committee member for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now Dignity in Dying).
Sir Iain Chalmers
|Sir Iain Chalmers is a renowned medical researcher and founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, the first global evidenced based research network in medicine. He is the acting coordinator of the James Lind Initiative and received the British Medical Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.|
Prof. A C Grayling
|A. C. Grayling is the Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy, and the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He is a columnist for Prospect magazine, and was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian and Times. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3, 2 and the World Service, for which he did the annual ‘Exchanges at the Frontier’ series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2015 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.|
Dr Phil Hammond
Dr Phil Hammond is a physician, broadcaster, comedian and commentator, best known for his regular column in Private Eye and appearances in the hit BBC television show Have I Got News For You, BBC Radio 4 The News Quiz, and BBC Radio 4 The Now Show. Dr Hammond worked as a lecturer at the Universities of Bristol and Birmingham, before going on to write Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Trust Me, I’m (Still) a Doctor and served as the Vice President of the Patients Association.
Canon Rosie Harper
|Rosie Harper Studied at Birmingham University, followed by post-graduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music. She worked as a professional singer. Further studies included an MA in Philosophy and Religion, She is now Vicar of Great Missenden and Chaplain to the Bishop of Buckingham. She is chair of the Oxford Nandyal Education Foundation, an education charity in rural Indian. A member of General Synod, Rosie writes for the Guardian, broadcast regularly, and was a panel member for Any Questions. She is deeply committed to working for issues of justice and equality within and beyond the church, and is one of very few serving Anglican Priests to campaign for a change in the law on Assisted Dying.|
|Virginia Ironside has been a journalist and writer all her life, working mainly as an agony aunt for publications like Woman magazine, the Sunday Mirror and the Independent. She is currently agony aunt for The Oldie. She has also performed her own one-woman show, Growing Old Disgracefully for the last ten years. Her twenty books include her first, Chelsea Bird, and the last, a series starting with No, I Don’t Want to Join a Bookclub, the diary of a sixty-year-old granny.|
Dr Michael Irwin
|Michael Irwin is a former GP and medical director of the United Nations. Vice-chairman / Chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society 1995-2003, (now renamed Dignity in Dying). Founder and Coordinator of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide 2009-2015, (now renamed My Death, My Decision).|
|In July 2019, campaigner Paul Lamb issued proceedings in the High Court for judicial review of the UK’s law on assisted dying. Paul, 63, was severely injured in a car accident in 1990 and has no function below his neck, apart from limited movement in his right hand. He requires around the clock care and is in constant pain. Paul explains that his motivation for legal action is to achieve something for the benefit of the many people who face similarly challenging circumstances.|
Dr Henry Marsh
Dr Henry Marsh CBE, is a leading neurosurgeon and best selling author of “Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery” and “Admissions: A life in brain surgery”, which became a number 1 Sunday Times best seller. His work has been the subject of two major BBC documentaries – “Your Life in their Hands” in 2003 and “The English Surgeon” in 2009 which won an Emmy. Until 2015 he served as the senior consultant at St George’s Hospital, working within the UK’s leading brain surgery unit.
The actor Miriam Margolyes, OBE, is known for many and varied roles, such as in Call the Midwife, Romeo + Juliet, Blackadder, and the Harry Potter films. She has appeared in nearly 175 feature films, TV Programmes and Theatre Productions. Miriam received the Best Supporting Actress award at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for her role in Little Dorrit and BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence. Most recent acclaim for Miriam came for the two-part BBC documentary Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure (2019), in which she looks at different approaches and attitudes to dealing with death.
Professor David Nutt
David Nutt is the Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and Director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences. He is currently Chair of DrugScience (formally the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and President of the European Brain Council. He previously advised the Ministry of Defence, Department of Health and Home Office on the safety of medicines.
Photo: Vicky Symonds, via Flickr
Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS, FREng, FMedSci, FRAS
|Martin Rees has been Astronomer Royal since 1995. Master of Trinity College, Cambridge 2004-12. President of Royal Society 2005-10. Crossbencher in the House of Lords since 2005.|
Kathleen Richardson, Baroness Richardson of Calow, OBE
|Kathleen Richardson was the first female President of the Methodist Conference 1992-93. Crossbencher in the House of Lords since 1998.|
Professor Wendy Savage
|Professor Wendy Savage is a British gynaecologist and long standing campaigner for women’s rights in childbirth and fertility. She is an accomplished writer having published the highly successful “Birth and Power”, has previously served as a member of the General Medical Council and British Medical Association’s Ethics Committee, and has received the British Medical Journal’s award for an Outstanding Contribution to Health.|
|Polly Toynbee is a journalist and writer. She has been a Guardian columnist since 1998.
Photo: By cooperniall (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
Much of our work is in publishing and responding to articles in the media, and giving talks to interested organisations. We work with medical professionals and politicians to raise awareness of the issues, working towards an eventual change in the law which meets our objectives.
We have 2 meetings per year in London with an invited speaker and discussion. We have a growing network of local groups throughout the country who do local campaigning to raise awareness of the issues, promote the use of advance decisions, and provide a forum for those who wish to discuss end of life choices.
Dignity in Dying is the largest UK right to die campaign group. It was formed in 1935 as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. However, in 2005 it changed its name to Dignity in Dying and restricted its objectives to a change in the law only for those who are terminally ill (meaning having a life expectancy of 6 months or less).
In contrast to this, MDMD provides a focus for those who wish for what we believe is a more compassionate right to die solution than Dignity in Dying advocate. We strongly believe that the 6 month limitation would prevent assistance to die for many who desire it, in particular those suffering from long term degenerative diseases such as MS, MND and dementia.
Friends at the End (FATE) has objectives very similar to those of MDMD, but it is based in Scotland and focuses on a change in the Scottish Law. FATE and MDMD have joint meetings in London every 6 months.
Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association) works on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It campaigns for equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief, as well as on a number of ethical issues where humanists are generally of the same view. It has a clear policy on assisted dying which is similar to that of MDMD.
Unlike Humanists UK, MDMD is focused solely on assisted dying. MDMD also does not take a position on questions of religion or belief, but equally works with and represents supporters of all religions and beliefs.
End of Life Choices, Jersey campaign for a change in law in the Crown dependency of Jersey. Their views are very close to those of MDMD.
The Assisted Dying Coalition brings together organisations which share a common view on how the assisted dying law should be changed in the UK. We meet regularly to share experience and support and develop each other’s campaigns.