Assisted suicide should be allowed in Britain according to a newly-appointed health minister – but her comments have been swiftly criticised by a leading doctors’ union and an MP in her own party.
Anna Soubry, one of two new Under Secretaries of State at the Department of Health, said it is “ridiculous and appalling” that Britons “have to go abroad to end their life”.
But the President of the British Medical Association (BMA) said doctors “do not support a change in the law”.
And a Conservative MP said pro-assisted suicide legislation would be “rigorously fought” in the House of Commons.
Anna Soubry told The Times newspaper: “I think it’s ridiculous and appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life instead of being able to end their life at home”.
While saying that she thought it was wrong to say to a doctor or a nurse, ‘Kill this person’, she added: “you have a right to kill yourself”.
However Baroness Hollins – the President of the BMA – commented: “It has been debated so many times in Parliament and each time, those advocating a change in the law have been very soundly defeated”.
Baroness Hollins added: “This is a group of activists who have really been trying to advocate for this to be re-looked at, but I don’t see any good reason at all for raising the subject again.
“The medical profession do not support a change in the law. The ordinariness of death is not understood by the general public.
“It is something which people fear and yet the vast majority of people who die have what I would call a good death”, she told Sky News.
And she commented: “The risks of changing the law could put so many vulnerable people at risk, it’s just not something we should contemplate.
“To change the law would be to change the boundary between life and death altogether.”
Conservative MP Mark Pritchard said that it is Parliament which writes the laws rather than ministers and any “new right-to-die legislation will be rigorously fought by MPs from across the House.
“This is a slippery slope, which incrementally and over time, will reduce the ‘right to life'”, he said.