Disabled Peer speaks out against new attempt to legalise assisted suicide

A disabled Peer has hit out at the latest attempt to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales.

Baroness Jane Campbell, who has spinal muscular atrophy and therefore uses a wheelchair and relies on a ventilator to help her breathe, has said that despite what assisted suicide campaigners say, “the majority of people it is intended to help didn’t ask for it and don’t want it”.

The former Commissioner of the Disability Rights Commission also said others like her are “fearful of any change in the law that would weaken the protection we rely upon now”.

‘Better off dead’

Writing in The Telegraph, Lady Campbell explained that the proposed law would, in essence, require doctors “to endorse the suicidal person’s view that they would be better off dead and the state should assist in that objective”.

She argued that, instead of affirming people who feel suicidal, they should be given support “especially at our lowest points, when we might question the point of going on, particularly if those around us believe we would be better off dead”.

The life Peer also pointed out that wherever assisted suicide has been made legal, the number of people being killed in this way increases over time.

She said: “Once assisted suicide is law, society has endorsed it as an option, equal to that of life. Those who had never considered it will be told that it is an option. Their families, friends, health and social care professions will all know it as an option too.”

‘Dignity and respect’

For essential support to become merely the alternative option to assisted suicide terrifies us

Lady Campbell continued: “It is hard enough already for those of us with terminal illnesses and disabilities to get the support services we need to live active independent lives. For essential support to become merely the alternative option to assisted suicide terrifies us.

“That is why no organisation of terminally ill or disabled people has sought a change in the law. Why do others think they know what’s best for us?”

She said the majority of terminally ill and disabled people do not want assisted suicide: “We want basic human rights to live with dignity and respect so we can enjoy life. With the right support, most of us are pretty good at it.”

Rejected

The Baroness concluded: “Last time the House of Commons considered legalising assisted suicide (in 2015), it was rejected by a majority of 212, affirmation that terminally ill and disabled people are entitled to equal protection under the law.

Why do others think they know what’s best for us?

“What has changed in the last six years to require the issue to be debated again? Certainly not the views of palliative care doctors or geriatricians, who remain firmly opposed to a change in the law.”

See MPs speaking out powerfully against an attempt to legalise assisted suicide in 2015 below.

Also see:

Hospital

House of Lords to consider assisted suicide Bill

SNP pledges to consider legalising assisted suicide if re-elected

Humanists attack end-of-life protections

Campaigners blast Ireland’s ‘dangerous’ euthanasia Bill

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