Former athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has urged MPs to vote against the assisted suicide Bill on Friday, saying it fills her “with dread”.
In an article for The Guardian, she explained why disabled people are so concerned about any change in the law.
In a letter to The Times yesterday, Baroness Butler-Sloss also issued a firm warning against legalising assisted suicide, saying that supposed safeguards could never protect vulnerable people.
Baroness Grey-Thompson, who has spina bifida, wrote: “The prospect of changing the criminal law on encouraging and assisting suicide, as this bill would do, fills me with dread.”
She continued: “Many people wonder why disabled people are so concerned about a bill that appears to affect only people thought to have less than six months to live.
“But many disabled people have fluctuating conditions, with improvements and setbacks; and some at times could meet this rather hazy definition, even if they subsequently move outside it.”
The eleven-time Paralympic gold medalist noted that her colleague Baroness Jane Campbell, who has spinal muscular atrophy, is an example of doctors getting the prognosis wrong.
She said that Baroness Campbell, “has written about being told throughout her life to expect to die shortly. She is now in her 50s”.
Baroness Grey-Thompson added: “Disabled people also have a stronger understanding than most about what it means to feel you are a burden to others, or to have assumptions made about the value of your life.”
“We need support, acceptance and encouragement to live”, she continued.
She concluded, “as we approach Friday’s debate, I urge MPs to understand the significance of the proposed change in the law. It would be a seismic shift in the way we choose to care for people at their most vulnerable”.
Opponents of the assisted suicide Bill have set up the website notoassistedsuicide.org.uk to enable people to contact their MP ahead of Friday’s vote.