The Prime Minister has expressed “worry” about legalising euthanasia, ahead of today’s debate on an assisted suicide bill in the House of Lords.
Lord Falconer’s proposals would allow terminally ill patients thought to have six months or less to live to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves.
David Cameron said during Prime Minister’s Questions: “I myself am not convinced that further steps need to be taken. I worry about legalising euthanasia because people might be pushed into things that they do not actually want for themselves”.
He also said “by all means let us have the debate”, and noted that it will be “worthwhile” reading the transcript of what goes on in the House of Lords tomorrow.
Mr Cameron has previously stated his opposition to changing the law on assisted suicide, saying he is concerned people will feel compelled to kill themselves if the law is weakened.
Several public figures and people with disabilities, chronic illnesses and diseases have spoken out against Lord Falconer’s bill.
Baroness Hollins, who is a past president of the British Medical Association, warned that with terminal illness, “there is pressure to get any assessment done quickly”.
“It is a complete negation of the concept of careful medicine”.
She spoke of a friend with motor neurone disease, who told her he would gladly have taken a prescribed lethal drug six months before his death if it had been available.
“Yet, closer to his death, he confided that his last months had been a precious journey and that he had truly valued the closure this time had brought him, for himself and his relationships with friends and family.”
The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also raised concerns about the bill, writing in The Daily Telegraph that it will “hamper society’s ability to discharge its duty of neighbourly love and compassion”.
“Instead of promoting assisted dying, we should be concentrating our attentions on assisted living”, he added.
And disabled actress Liz Carr said her own medical team have underestimated her life expectancy and that it is “very common” for someone with a disability to live longer than they were expected to.
Carr, who is now in her 40s and has used a wheelchair since childhood, said that doctors may, “wonder how someone they are treating can have any quality of life because they are so dependent on carers or seem to have lost their dignity”.
“They do not think they could cope if it was them. But that person may have adapted very well to their condition to the point of living a good life.”