Former Supreme Court judge: Assisted suicide law there ‘to be broken’

A former Supreme Court judge has said it is acceptable for people to break the law on assisted suicide.

Lord Jonathan Sumption said whilst current legislation is necessary to prevent abuse, people have no “moral obligation to obey” it.

He said people should break the law if they wish to help a close friend or family member to kill themselves.

No moral obligation

Giving the opening speech of this year’s BBC Reith Lectures, he said: “I think the law should continue to criminalise assisted suicide”, but added, “that the law should be broken from time to time.”

“I don’t believe there’s a moral obligation to obey the law. Ultimately it’s for each person to decide.”

However, Lord Sumption did admit that few lawyers would adopt his position.

The law

Parliament last voted against changing assisted suicide law in 2015 by 330 to 118.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a sentence of up to 14 years.

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