THE debate around assisted dying is a controversial and complicated one, with some saying choosing when to die is to die with dignity and others claiming it undermines the value of human life.

Unlike euthanasia, where a patient’s life is taken by someone else, assisted dying is when a terminally ill adult, who wishes to die, takes medication that will end her or his life. Both are illegal in the UK and could lead to those assisting to get up to 14 years in prison. As with so many things, however, people with enough money can bypass the system - one Briton every fortnight goes to Switzerland for an assisted death, paying about £3,500 for the service.

In today's Northern Echo we highlight the case of Mike Findley, who has motor neurone disease. Mr Findley wants a law change to give him the option of having a doctor assist him to die if his health deteriorates significantly.

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Quality of life is key to the debate. So too is the belief held by some that it’s not the state’s place to interfere if a person wants to die.

However, there are concerns that allowing euthanasia and assisted dying gives doctors too much power, and might worsen care for the terminally ill and research into their illnesses.

Some have even suggested it could lead to people feeling pressured into asking to die, as they don’t want to be a burden upon those around them.

This is fundamentally an issue about freedom of choice, personal responsibility and the value we place on human life. What Mr Findley is asking for is a right to choose. Alongside the option to receive palliative care hasn’t the time come to make it possible for people who are suffering to have the option of ending their own lives without those assisting them to be at risk of being thrown in prison?