Annie supports assisted dying choice b​ecause it’s the right thing to do​

Annie supports assisted dying choice b​ecause it’s the right thing to do​

Annie Gabrielides is 55 years old and has Motor Neurone Disease (MND). She wants the right to choose a peaceful death. Early in 2017, she was given a 12 month prognosis. Annie says she is terrified of an undignified, drawn out and painful death.

Annie’s MND has progressed rapidly during 2017. She is now in a wheelchair and is fed via a tube in her stomach to avoid choking. Annie would like to live her life to the fullest, while she can, in the knowledge that she will be able to control the timing of her death, when her suffering is too great. Under the current law, this is not possible.

Annie has used her precious final months of life to lobby NSW politicians before they voted on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017. Early this year, Annie, her husband Paul, and their children invited Dying with Dignity NSW members into their home in Sydney’s Blue Mountains to make this video to support her PETITION  “Don’t leave me trapped in a dying body – allow me to die peacefully“

Annie’s family featured in the launch of the bill in Parliament House on 21 September this year. Annie is a speech pathologist and, tragically, her speech was one of the first things the Motor Neuron Disease took from her, so she uses her programmed Ipad to speak for her.

On the day before the bill was launched, Annie released a new video which she kindly allowed DWD NSW to shoot, centred around the day that she completed the Sydney City to Surf marathon, with the support of her family and friends. A key message of the video is that having the choice to die when the suffering got too great, would help Annie to be happy and enjoy the life she had left.

During October 2017, Annie and her husband, Paul, met with both Premier Gladys Berejiklian and with the Leader of the Opposition, Luke Foley. Annie was very sad to report that “They both plan to vote against the Bill and deny me the right to a quick and peaceful death. Liberal and Labor MPs will need to be courageous to vote differently from their leaders.”

On 7 November, Annie sent out a new message saying “My MND has progressed rapidly. I am now in a wheelchair and I am fed via a tube in my stomach to avoid choking. But as you can see from this photo, even in the most dire of circumstances, I intend to suck every drop of life, every drop of wine and every kiss. I want politicians to realise that this Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is about LIFE not DEATH…Please help me by contacting your MP today and ask them to support this important Bill”.

Many of our supporters responded to Annie’s plea and engaged with their MP, via phone or letter or a personal visit.

Just prior to the debate in parliament, Paul Gabrielides sent an email to all the undecided MLC’s, including those who would not agree to meet Annie. He ended the email by saying:

“I see this Bill as empowering my wife, empowering all the terminally ill people who are in Anne’s position. Vote Yes and give them the dignity of making their own choice.

“I will leave you with this one thought, a question really. When you left yesterday afternoon, we made our way home via a café, where Anne had a tube feed. We got home just on 5:00 pm. By that time, Anne was absolutely exhausted – physically spent and emotionally drained. So here’s the question: If you had 100 days left on the planet would you spend one of those days with politicians trying to change their mind on a law that is unlikely to effect you? Believe me, I have asked Annie this same question many times, and I get the same answer every time.
YES,​ b​ecause it’s the right thing to do​.​’

Sadly, the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (2017) was not passed by the NSW Upper House on 16 November 2017 – see our webpost ‘NSW assisted dying bill defeated by one vote, but we are not defeated‘ for more details.

The board and members of Dying with Dignity NSW would like to thank Annie Gabrielides and her loving family (husband Paul and children Michael, Christopher and Eleni), who have campaigned so strongly for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (2017).

Their advocacy at a difficult time for them, has been appreciated and has really helped to move forward the debate on this important right. We wish Annie and her family all the best as they deal with Annie’s awful illness, and welcome Annie’s first grandchild, Harriet, into the world.