Lord Cashman: When my husband was dying I contemplated suicide
Speaking in the House of Lords this week, Lord Cashman said when his husband was dying of cancer, the peer contemplated killing himself.
Lord Cashman’s civil partner Paul Cottingham, who previously worked as an actor, also worked with organisations such as the Kaleidoscope Trust on his humanitarian work. The pair also worked together while Mr Cashman was an MEP, Mr Cottingham as his researcher.
Mr Cottingham died after a battle with cancer last October.
Speaking on the Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords, an amendment to which Lord Cashman was opposed, he noted that he contemplated suicide, and that he felt “absolutely clear” that if Mr Cottingham were to die, he wanted to as well.
The amendment sought to include the phrase “assistance with suicide”, defining the act of assisted dying as suicide.
Lord Cashman said: “I want to speak on this issue and against the amendment. Some colleagues will know that shortly before I entered this House, my partner died of a very aggressive cancer known as angiosarcoma. It came back swiftly and his death, I am certain, was assisted. During that period at the brilliant Royal Marsden Hospital, I was absolutely clear that if my husband of six years and partner of 31 years was to die, I wanted to die with him.”
Continuing, he said: “I raise this not out of any sentiment or emotion, but for the very clarity that we need when dealing with assisted dying. I was healthy and wanted to commit suicide to end a healthy life. My partner—my husband—was facing a death that could happen in a week, three days or three months. To see him almost completely out of his senses because of the morphine, but still aware that he was unable to breathe, offered me clarity enough that I wanted to commit suicide and that my husband, who was dying, needed his death accelerated. With respect to noble Lords who are proposing this amendment, it will not bring clarity; it will, sadly, do the reverse.”
Tributes were paid to Mr Cottingham by Tony Blair and Lord Cashman attended the PinkNews Awards in October, where Ed Miliband paid an emotional tribute to him with a posthumous Lifetime of Achievement award.