‘No need to change assisted suicide laws’, says academic

A High Court case involving a man who is seeking to make assisted suicide legal is “deeply worrying”, an academic and author has warned.

In an article for online magazine Spiked, Dr Kevin Yuill responded to the ongoing media coverage of assisted suicide campaigner Noel Conway’s case.

He cautioned that the UK should consider what has happened in Canada since the country passed its euthanasia law last year.

‘Deeply worrying’

Dr Yuill is the author of ‘The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Assisted Suicide’, and senior lecturer in American History at the University of Sunderland.

In his article, he pointed out that the current law was “overwhelmingly upheld by parliament in 2015” – when MPs defeated Rob Marris’ Private Members’ Bill to legalise assisted suicide by 330 votes to 118.

“The fact that the courts are hearing a challenge to this is deeply worrying”, Dr Yuill said.

Dr Yuill said Canada had “opened a Pandora’s box” and should serve “as a warning about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide”.

‘Politicising the courts’

“In the province of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced that it would force doctors to either euthanise patients who wanted to die, or refer them to someone who would.

“Three years ago, it was a crime for doctors to kill their patients in Canada. Now, doctors could lose their licence for refusing to participate in killing their patients.”

Last week, a law tutor at the University of Oxford said that the legalisation of assisted suicide “should be for Parliament itself to decide freely” rather than the courts.

Writing in The Spectator online, Professor Richard Ekins said: “Any attempt to use the courts to pressure Parliament to change the law risks politicising the courts and distorting parliamentary democracy.”

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