Sir Patrick Stewart is urging the UK to follow in the footsteps of his adopted California and allow seriously ill people to die with dignity.

The home of Hollywood today introduces a new law granting terminally ill people the right to chose when they die.

Five states in the US now allow terminally ill people to request prescriptions for medication to end their lives.

The new law in California states you must be resident, at least 18 years old and terminally ill with no more than six months to live.

The British actor , who is patron of Dignity in Dying, told the Daily Mirror it was an “utter disgrace” those suffering in the UK do not have these same rights.

The 76-year-old said the UK needed to take action as it was being left behind.

He said: “In California, where I have lived and worked for many years, millions of people now have the ability to die with dignity in the event of terminal illness.

“It is an absolute disgrace that, as a Briton, I am denied this right at home.”

Sir Patrick Stewart with MP Rob Marris after debate in support of Marris's Right to Die bill last year
Sir Patrick Stewart with MP Rob Marris after debate in support of Marris's Right to Die bill last year

His calls were backed by Roch Maher, 54, who suffers from motor neurone disease (MND) and uses a ventilator 20 hours a day.

Mr Maher, a retired manager at the inner London Council, who has two children aged 21 and 24 and is married to wife Deirdre, is also confined to a wheelchair.

He said: “My body continues to fail and I lose abilities on a regular basis. I am in no hurry to die. However, my quality of life would benefit from my being able to have a clear strategy as to how to end my life when it becomes unbearable.

“As my life move towards its slow and painful end I would like to have a choice about avoiding the pain and uncertainty which is currently inevitable.

“I am also concerned for my family and extremely worried about the effect such a long and lingering death will have upon them.”

The Californian legislation was approved on September 11th 2015, the same day that an Assisted Dying Bill was defeated in the House of Commons in the UK.

Writer Sir Terry Pratchett and Sarah Wootton Chief Executive from Dignity in Dying
Fringe meeting at the Hyatt, in support of a change in the law for assisted dying
Writer Sir Terry Pratchett and Sarah Wootton Chief Executive from Dignity in Dying Fringe meeting at the Hyatt, in support of a change in the law for assisted dying

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, added: “This is a transformative moment for the cause of assisted dying globally.

“The government of California listened to the public – 65% of whom supported an assisted dying law - and now 38 million more Americans are covered by such legislation.

READ MORE: Patrick Stewart on his drag look, keeping James McAvoy's hair and why getting old has its advantages

READ MORE: Sir Patrick Stewart speaks in support of assisted dying at Westminster debate on right to die bill

“Fifty million Americans now have a choice over their deaths, should they be terminally ill, that every single person in Briton is denied.

“The UK is being left behind. It is a national embarrassment that dying people in this country are denied choice and control at the end of their life.

Video Loading

“Last September, MPs voted to defeat an assisted dying bill in the UK, despite 82% of the British public supporting such a law.

“It’s time our politicians listened to the people they claim to represent and allow terminally ill people the right to die with dignity.”

poll loading

Should terminally ill people be able to choose when they die?