Another bid to weaken law on assisted suicide

Lord Falconer is to introduce another attempt to weaken the law on assisted suicide – after his last effort was defeated in 2009.

Peers rejected his previous bid by 194 to 141, but the former Lord Chancellor is trying again with a bill to be presented to the House of Lords next week.

The bill would allow doctors to give lethal drugs to patients who are believed to have less than six months to live.


Lord Falconer’s proposal for assisted suicide is similar to a system in Oregon, USA. A report has previously warned that allowing such a law here would lead to over 1,000 deaths in Britain each year.

Last week Giles Fraser, a Church of England minister and Guardian columnist, criticised euthanasia, saying it has its “roots in a fearful way to live”.

Dr Fraser said: “These days, people say they want to die quickly, painlessly in their sleep and without becoming a burden.


“Apparently, this is what a good death now looks like. Well, I want to offer a minority report.

“I do want to be a burden on my loved ones just as I want them to be a burden on me – it’s called looking after each other.”

He warned against an “excessive fear we now have of dying, a fear that is amplified by the let’s pretend game that we play when we remove death from public view”.


Dr Fraser concluded: “My problem with euthanasia is not that it is an immoral way to die, but that it has its roots in a fearful way to live.”

Lord Falconer’s proposal is based on the conclusion of his commission on the issue – which was criticised for being “seriously flawed”.

Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of the pro-life group Care Not Killing, cautioned at the time: “This investigation was unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency”.

He said that while it was portrayed as “a comprehensive, objective and independent review into this complicated issue”, it was “anything but”.

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