Disabled protected one year on from assisted suicide vote

Sunday marked the first anniversary of the defeat of Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill, on 11 September 2015.

MPs voted 330 to 118 against the Private Members’ Bill, which would have legalised assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

In the run up to the vote, disability rights campaigners were among the most passionate opponents. This weekend, they celebrated the result as a win for the vulnerable.

Clear message

Liz Carr, a disabled actress and activist for Not Dead Yet UK, said: “One year ago, we sent a clear message to Parliament that we want support, not suicide. We want help to live, not to die.

“Parliament responded by overwhelmingly rejecting a measure which would have put the lives of elderly and vulnerable people including those with all types of impairment at risk.”

In an article for The Guardian, Carr noted that public misapprehensions about disabled people still exist, fueled by the ‘propagandising’ of assisted suicide proponents.

The actress wrote: “If I said I wanted to die, the press, celebrities and the public would support my choice, seeing it as rational and understandable.

Misplaced pity

“Yet when a healthy, non-disabled person wants to kill themself it’s seen as a tragedy, and support and prevention tools are provided.”

Carr argued that the “emotional power behind the campaign for assisted suicide is based on misplaced pity.

Please don’t wish death upon us because you feel pity for our condition

Liz Carr

“Rather than telling us we have everything to live for – and we do – we are helped to the proverbial cliff edge and offered a push.”

“Please don’t wish death upon us because you feel pity for our condition”, she concluded.

Palliative care

Dr Kevin Yuill, spokesman for campaign group No to Assisted Suicide, said that on the anniversary of the vote, people should channel their energy into supporting the terminally ill.

“That means more hospice care, effective social care support and greater understanding of older and disabled people’s needs at end of life.”

His thoughts were echoed by disabled Peer Baroness Jane Campbell, who said, “if we get that right, people will not desperately ask others to kill them, which is a terrible burden for both to carry”.

Speeches

You can watch MPs from across the political spectrum give speech after speech criticising Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill in this video:

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