Assisted suicide: Chorus of critics oppose change in law

MPs, Peers, a national newspaper and a prominent columnist have all spoken out against assisted suicide, as the House of Lords gears up to debate the issue.

Writing to The Times, former Home Secretary David Blunkett, Paralympic star Baroness Grey-Thompson and others warned that vulnerable people would be threatened by legalising assisted suicide.

The Sunday Telegraph cautioned that society should recognise that “life is often hard but, ultimately, precious”.


And Dominic Lawson said “the great majority of doctors” have serious concerns about being involved in helping people to kill themselves.

The comments came as Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill is set to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday.

Under his proposals, terminally ill patients thought to have less than six months to live would be allowed to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves.

At the weekend former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said he had changed his mind, and now supports assisted suicide.

Public safety

The Church of England, which opposes assisted suicide, has called for a Royal Commission on the issue. It said the current Bill should be withdrawn in order for the issue to be considered at length – but Lord Falconer rejected the Church’s proposal.

In their letter 13 parliamentarians, including Baroness O’Cathain, David Burrowes MP and Jim Dobbin MP, said: “Many who oppose the introduction of assisted suicide in the UK do so on grounds of public safety.”

“The mark of a healthy society is how it treats those who have no one to speak up for them.

“We must not enact laws which will endanger the lives of people in vulnerable situations”, they added.


In an editorial on Lord Carey’s comments, The Sunday Telegraph said it ‘respectfully disagrees’ with the former Archbishop.

“We should build a society that more than just acknowledges the pain of others, and rather seeks to bear their suffering alongside them – in recognition that life is often hard but, ultimately, precious”, the newspaper commented.

And writing in the Daily Mail, Dominic Lawson warned that the ‘safeguard’ of independent doctors checking patients were not being pressurised could become watered down in the future – as has happened with abortion.


He also commented, “in the case of euthanasia, the great majority of doctors are highly unwilling accomplices.

“One wrote to me: ‘As one who spends every working day caring for the terminally ill, I am acutely aware of the damage such a change would cause to vulnerable patients'”, he said.

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