Peers have accused the pro-euthanasia lobby of trying to piggy-back the ‘right’ to assisted suicide onto plans for improving end-of-life care.
Dignity in Dying, formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, wants its Charter for Dignity at the End of Life to be incorporated into the Government’s new end-of-life care strategy.
But in a Lords debate this week Peers opposed to the move pointed out that the only new thing the charter introduces is a proposal for assisted suicide to be made legal.
Buried in the middle of nine care-related points, the fifth point in the charter says, “Parliament must give terminally ill, mentally competent people the right to have an assisted death”.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff said: “Palliative and other end-of-life care is being used like bubble-wrap around a sharp and dangerous object in an attempt to [bring in] assisted suicide by the back door.”
Baroness Finlay also asked why the charter referred to “assisted death” rather than “assisted suicide”.
She said: “Midwives assist at birth and palliative care assists at death; assistance is supportive help, not accelerating death or cutting life short by months or years.
“Why not be honest? What are the authors of this document frightened of?”
Baroness Knight of Collingtree said the group “is trying to fool us.”
She went on: “It is a bit like slipping a bottle of cyanide into a weekend shopping list and hoping that it will not be noticed among the Daz, eggs andvegetables.”
She added: “Terminally ill but mentally competent people will, if the true aims of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society are realised, submit themselves to a lethal injection or a fatal dose, when it is made clear to them in a subtle or direct way that it is time that they shuffled off this mortal coil for the general good.”
Earlier this month, justice minister Maria Eagle indicated that time would be set aside to debate the issue at some point in the future, but the Government says its position is neutral.