Critics attack DPP assisted suicide interim guidance

A coalition of five disability groups has pleaded with Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), to reconsider his interim guidelines on assisted suicide.

The coalition, led by Baroness Campbell, said that “to see suicide as a right solution is to abandon hope. Severely ill and terminally ill people do not deserve society to give up on them.”

The disability groups warned that it was “profoundly unhelpful for society to be endorsing or encouraging any disabled person to see their request for assistance to die as reasonable or completely understandable.”

The Royal Association for Disabled People, the UK Disabled People’s Council and the National Centre for Disabled Living are included in the coalition.

They also accused those pushing for change of “seeking to change the law by the back door”.

The concerns were echoed in a separate submission by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well.

Baroness Finlay, a cross-bench peer and the Chairman of Dying Well, warned that the “checklist approach could legalise killing because it becomes far easier for people to hide the fact if they are acting out of bad motives.”

She continued: “It makes it far more difficult to fully investigate why somebody’s life was prematurely brought to an end.”

This is not the first time that the DPP’s draft guidance has come under fire.

Earlier this month a disability campaigner who previously wished to die launched a legal challenge in the Supreme Court against the guidelines, saying that they are “fatally discriminatory against suffering people”.

Last month a group of leading lawyers, Peers and former judges labelled the guidelines “not fit for purpose”.

Prominent politicians from all three main parties in England have declared their opposition to any legalisation of assisted suicide.

The DPP published the draft guidelines in September following a Law Lords ruling in favour of assisted suicide campaigner Debbie Purdy’s demand for additional guidance on the application of the law.

A public consultation on the proposals closed on Wednesday having received over 2,000 responses.

The final policy will be published in Spring 2010.

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