Terminally ill artist holds party for friends before ending life under California's new assisted dying law

Ms Davis asked guests not to cry at her party

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 12 August 2016 12:32
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Betsy Davis organised a weekend party before she died
Betsy Davis organised a weekend party before she died

One of the first Californians to die under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law held a party before ending her life.

Betsy Davis, a 41-year-old artist, who suffered from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease, held a gathering of 30 friends in the mountain town of Ojai in southern California.

She then took a cocktail of drugs, prescribed by her doctor, which killed her.

Ms Davis ended her life the month after the California law went came into force. The law allows adults who are terminally ill and have less than six months to live to be given “aid-in-dying” drugs by a doctor.

The California End of Life Option Act makes the state the fifth in America to legalise doctor-assisted dying.

Writing in online news site Voice of San Diego, Kelly Davis said her sister wrote to her last year about wanting to end her life.

She quotes her sister’s email: “I don’t want to live out my life paralyzed, eating through a tube in my stomach and communicating through a machine. I’d rather be free than entombed in my body.”

Ms Davis allowed guests to take souvenirs from her house and asked people not to cry at her party, AP reported.

Ms Davis called her friends 'brave' for attending her 'right to die' party

“You are all very brave for sending me off on my journey,” she wrote in her invitation email, “thank you so much for traveling the physical and emotional distance for me.

“These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness, and openness.”

Disability rights groups were opposed to California's new law, citing fears terminally ill people could be coerced into ending their life.

The Catholic Church opposed to the introduction of the new law.

“Pope Francis invites all of us to create our good society by seeing through the eyes of those who are on the margins, those in need economically, physically, psychologically and socially,” the California Catholic Conference said in a statement.

In August, actor Lord Brian Rix called for assisted dying to become legal in the UK, after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

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