Assisted suicide should not be legalised – Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that he would not back measures to legalise assisted suicide.

Mr Clegg said he has observed how the law on assisted suicide works in different countries, including the Netherlands, where it has been heavily criticised.

He made his views known at the Liberal Democrat Party conference in Glasgow this week.


During a question and answer session at the conference, Clegg said that MPs should have a free vote on assisted suicide because it was “something of such profound personal conscience”.

He said: “I am personally quite sceptical about the ability to capture what is a very, very delicate decision about when you endorse, under the law, the taking of someone’s life.”

Delegates at the conference were asked to raise their hands if they were in favour of assisted suicide and a large number did.


When Mr Clegg saw this, he commented: “I realise that I am in a minority. I hope it’s nonetheless a minority view that can be respected.”

Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron have both previously voiced opposition to assisted suicide.

Prior to 2010′s General Election, Mr Clegg said he felt “morally very uncomfortable” about legislating on the issue.

Permissive culture

His mother is Dutch, and he said that in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, there is a “permissive culture” where people go beyond the law.

In March this year, the Prime Minister restated his opposition to assisted suicide, saying he is concerned that people will be unfairly pressurised 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.”

Incremental extension

Earlier this week, Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, warned about the dangers of euthanasia in the wake of new figures, which demonstrate a huge increase in euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands.

He said: “What we are seeing in the Netherlands is ‘incremental extension’, the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included.”

Dr Saunders commented that Britain needs to “take warning” from these statistics, as the debate on Lord Falconer’s Bill to legalise assisted suicide continues.

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