LONDON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A British expert on dementia says terminally ill patients should be able to choose when they want to die.
Martin Green of Britain's Department of Health said a referendum or a free vote should be called in Parliament to change the policy on assisted suicide.
Green, who leads the English Community Care Association representing nursing and care home groups, told The Daily Telegraph the National Health Service's "mantra of choice and control" fails to include terminally ill patients who want to end their suffering.
"In terms of people who have cognitive function, it seems to me to be wholly consistent to say, if you're going to give people choice and control and autonomy, it should extend to whether or not they want to die," he told the newspaper.
Britain's High Court is scheduled to hear a case next month in which a paralyzed man is asking permission for medical personal to help him to commit suicide.
Opponents of assisted suicide say many disabled people fear that legalizing assisted suicide could increase pressure on them to end their lives, especially those who see themselves as a burden on their families, the newspaper said.