On this day: Lords reject assisted dying law

On 7 July 2009, the House of Lords rejected Lord Falconer’s attempt to introduce assisted dying.

The amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, described as ‘a back door attempt to legalise euthanasia’, was soundly defeated by 194 votes to 141.

The result was welcomed by disability rights campaigners, legal experts and church leaders, who had warned against changing the law.


Under Lord Falconer’s proposal, relatives of terminally-ill people would have been able to help someone travel to commit suicide or take a drug overdose with the full support of the law.

During the debate, disabled Peer Baroness Campbell of Surbiton said: “Today I and hundreds of other disabled and terminally ill people want you to know, we do not want assisted dying to be legalised for ‘people like us’.”

“We want help to live – not help to die”, she added.

We want help to live – not help to die

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton

Care Not Killing, a campaign group of doctors and organisations opposed to changing the law, had labelled the move as “dangerous”.

Similar concerns were raised by top legal figures who said it could lead to vulnerable people being pressured to end their lives, for fear of being a burden on relatives.

They described the proposals as “ill-defined, unsound and unnecessary”.


In September 2015, MPs defeated the most recent attempt to legalise assisted suicide.

The Commons voted 330 to 118 against Rob Marris’s Private Members’ Bill.