Two severely disabled men are pushing the courts to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, while a ‘carefully timed’ Bill proposing a similar change was tabled in the House of Lords today.
Lord Falconer’s controversial assisted suicide Bill would allow doctors to give lethal drugs to patients who are believed to have less than six months to live.
The motives behind the proposals have been questioned by columnist Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail, who said “the intensely political and hungrily ambitious personality” of Lord Falconer should concern us.
Peers have twice rejected a similar attempt to legalise assisted suicide.
Prominent QC Lord Carlile said the Bill was based on “Orwellian spin”.
He said in a newspaper article: “In law, as in the English language, if you take your own life, whatever your state of health, that is suicide; and a doctor or anyone else who supplies you with the means to do so is assisting suicide.”
He added: “Sound lawmaking demands clarity. It cannot be based on euphemisms, verbal evasions or Orwellian spin.”
Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Care not Killing alliance, said the timing of the Bill had been carefully planned to coincide with the cases in the Court of Appeal.
He said: “Lord Falconer is using the emotions generated by hard court cases, but his agenda is very dangerous for disabled and elderly people.”
Paul Lamb, 57, who is not terminally ill but is paralysed from the neck down, wants to be euthanised.
Another man known as ‘Martin’ has locked-in syndrome and wants a medical professional to be legally allowed to assist his suicide.
Mr Lamb is taking up the case begun by Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome and lost his fight for euthanasia to be legalised last year.
Some are concerned that the case poses a genuine threat to disabled people.
And even the chief executive of Dignity in Dying, Sarah Wootton, wrote in The Times that she cannot support Mr Lamb’s case because he is not terminally ill and it goes too far in challenging the law on murder.
The Court of Appeal hearing is expected to last several days.