Critics have warned that a controversial new report advocating assisted suicide is “seriously flawed”.
The report, which was produced by the Commission on Assisted Dying, says that adults who are thought to have less than a year to live should be able to ask doctors for drugs which would end their life.
But Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of the pro-life group Care Not Killing, said: “This investigation was unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency, and its report is seriously flawed.
“It is being spun as a comprehensive, objective and independent review into this complicated issue. It is anything but.”
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, an end of life expert, said: “It is one thing to define the end of life for treatment purposes, quite another to do so for supplying lethal drugs for suicide.”
And a spokesman for the British Medical Association said that it “believes that the majority of doctors do not want to legalise assisted dying”.
The report, which was financed by author Sir Terry Pratchett and businessman Bernard Lewis – both of whom back assisted suicide – suggests a string of safeguards to protect the vulnerable.
But Phil Friend, of the Not Dead Yet campaign group, said: “There isn’t a route to ‘safely’ offer a choice of assisted dying to people, whatever the criteria is.”
And Richard Hawkes, of the disability charity Scope, said that he had “little confidence” in the Commission’s “over-simple” safeguards.
Over 40 organisations, including the British Medical Association, refused to give evidence to the Commission.
The Rt Revd James Newcome, the Church of England’s lead Bishop on Healthcare said: “The ‘Commission on Assisted Dying’ is a self-appointed group that excluded from its membership anyone with a known objection to assisted suicide.”
The Bishop continued, “the majority of commissioners, appointed personally by Lord Falconer, were already in favour of changing the law to legitimise assisted suicide.”
Sarah Wooton, from the lobby group Dignity in Dying, said that she hoped the report would “form the foundation of future legislative change”.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “The Government believes that any change to the law in this emotive and contentious area is an issue of individual conscience and a matter for Parliament to decide rather than Government policy.”