Assisted suicide law ‘protects vulnerable from pressure to end their lives’

The current law on assisted suicide protects the vulnerable and guards against “exploitation and coercion”, medical ethics experts say.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing, said the law had been reviewed and voted on “more than 30 times since 2003. On every occasion, they have rejected ripping up long-held universal protections”.

In a recent Westminster debate, junior justice minister Chris Philp MP confirmed that the Government had “no plans” for another review.


Dr Macdonald said support for the current law is “shared by every major disability rights organisation and doctors’ groups, none of which support change.

“They see what has happened in Canada since 2016, where safeguards have been ignored, removed and the law extended to non-terminally ill people.

“Is this what we want for the UK?”


Dr Gillian Wright of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics agreed. She said changing the law would “fundamentally change the relationship between doctor and patient”.

“Good palliative care, coupled with the love and support of family and the wider community, remains the best way to look after those who are terminally ill.

“Caregivers in the National Health Service operate under the principle that life should be respected, preserved and protected. Departing from this would be very dangerous indeed.”

“very dangerous indeed”

‘No plans’

During a recent Westminster debate, junior minister Chris Philp MP rejected to calls for a review.

Philp said the Government “do not have any plans” for a review or a call for evidence”.

He also reminded MPs that the Assisted Suicide Bill had been defeated in 2015.


MPs present said the current law on assisted suicide protects vulnerable people from ending their lives.

Fiona Bruce MP highlighted that in other jurisdictions which have legalised assisted suicide, “safeguards are often discarded” in practice, “and vulnerable and depressed people are assisted to end their lives”.

Sir John Hayes MP emphasised that “every life has value” and said: “If there is any prospect of one vulnerable person dying as a result of this change who would not otherwise do so, it is not a chance that, as a legislator and a parliamentarian, I am prepared to take.”

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