An MP has spoken out against Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill after copies of it were handed out in Parliament.
In an article published on the PoliticsHome website, Conservative MP Glyn Davies warned: “This is a road down which we should not go”.
This week, news of a British woman who chose assisted suicide because she didn’t want to become a “hobbling old lady” prompted dismay at how society already views the elderly.
In his article on the Bill, Davies pointed out a number of significant flaws in Marris’ arguments for assisted suicide.
The Montgomeryshire MP criticised Marris for claiming that “terminally ill people are ending their own lives” and “some doctors are complicit in hastening patients’ deaths”.
Davies wrote: “The claim about terminally ill patients ending their own lives rests on an extrapolation of data from just seven out of 139 health authorities.”
“As for the claim that doctors are already engaging in hastening patients’ deaths,” Davies continued, independent research “has concluded that covert hastening of deaths of patients by doctors in the UK is ‘rare or non-existent'”.
The MP concluded: “All these ‘assisted dying’ bills rest on purely arbitrary criteria – like terminal illness (but not chronic illness or disability) and assisted suicide (but not administered euthanasia).
“Their boundaries are irrational and therefore permeable. That is why so many people are worried about the thin end of the wedge. This is a road down which we should not go.”
Yesterday, the story of a healthy 75-year-old woman who travelled to a Swiss suicide clinic to end her life hit the headlines.
Gill Pharaoh, a retired palliative care nurse, ended her life on 21 July because she did not want to end up as a “hobbling old lady”.
In an interview before her assisted suicide, she said: “I have got so many friends with partners who, plainly, are a liability. I know you shouldn’t say that but I have this mental picture in my head of all you need to do, at my age, is break a hip and you are likely to go very much downhill from that.”
In response, a spokesman for Care Not Killing, a group which campaigns against assisted suicide, said: “This is another deeply troubling case and sends out a chilling message about how society values and looks after elderly people in the UK.”
Labour MP Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill has been described as “essentially the same” as Lord Falconer’s Bill, which failed to pass in the last Parliament.
MPs will debate the issue on Friday 11 September.