A Conservative MP has set out her opposition to Rob Marris MP’s Bill to introduce assisted suicide, which will be debated next week.
Caroline Ansell warned that legislating for assisted suicide would put vulnerable elderly people under pressure to end their lives.
Her opposition comes after an expression of support for the practice from Labour leadership hopeful Liz Kendall.
In an article for the Eastbourne Herald, Ansell, the MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, said she is “concerned that any change in the law would have damaging consequences in society’s attitudes towards the value of human life”.
She added that if assisted suicide was made legal, “we would be legitimising the fears and anxieties of so many sick who worry they are a burden on their family, the NHS or wider society.
“Changing the law could place pressure on people. There is no safeguard sufficient to stop a person feeling a burden. Greater access to palliative care is critical.”
Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, recently signalled that she intends to vote in favour of the assisted suicide Bill.
She said: “I believe in giving people as much power and control over what happens to them as possible.”
The former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer has also backed the Bill. Last week, he told The Times: “The law needs to be changed. The important thing is to have safeguards.”
Sir Keir claimed that Crown Prosecution Service guidelines “simply don’t deal with the problem of people wanting to end their lives in this country, medically assisted, rather than traipse off to Switzerland”.
However, a Church of England spokeswoman warned: “No amount of so-called ‘safeguards’ would protect thousands of people” from pressure to end their lives.
She said: “Far from being a progressive policy, such a change in the law would put two large groups of people at risk – those who would feel pressured to end their lives prematurely and those who would put pressure on themselves to do so.”