The Prime Minister has restated his opposition to assisted suicide, saying he is concerned people will feel compelled to kill themselves if the law is weakened.
David Cameron said: “I have not supported it in the past and I’m not planning on changing my position.”
“My worry has always been about whether people will be unfairly pressurised”, he added.
Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill – which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients with less than six months to live – is due to be re-tabled in the House of Lords later this year.
Mr Cameron confirmed that this is a “matter of conscience”, and if it reached the Commons, it would be a “free vote issue”.
The House of Lords is doing “useful work” by debating the issue, he said.
The Prime Minister previously made known his disagreement with assisted suicide in an interview with The Catholic Herald ahead of the 2010 General Election.
He said he would campaign against any change in the law.
An editorial in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph said Mr Cameron is “right to warn of the dangers of legalising assisted suicide”.
It pointed to the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia cases have seen a huge increase since the law was liberalised.
Belgium also recently became the first country in the world to extend euthanasia to terminally ill children.
The editorial said legislation for assisted suicide would not only “encourage ruthless relatives” to persuade a loved one to choose death, but it may also “add to the wider societal pressure for the aged or the ill to see themselves as a ‘burden’ on everybody else”.
“The emphasis of health care must be to treasure life and safeguard it”, it said.
“The push for assisted suicide is a troubling challenge to that fine tradition”, the editorial continued.
Earlier this week, a group of doctors wrote to The Times newspaper highlighting the “important role” they play in the prevention of suicide.
“Doctors are all too aware of the vulnerabilities of seriously ill patients”, they said.
“Is it any wonder that most of them, and their professional bodies, are opposed to attempts to foist assisted suicide on to them?”, they questioned.