‘Suicide is a tragedy, unless someone is disabled’, MPs warned

MPs were yesterday warned that if assisted suicide is legalised, disabled people will be made to feel their lives are not worth living.

The comments came from Labour’s Liz McInnes who also said she feared terminally ill people would come to see assisted suicide as a “treatment”.

No change was made to the law, but the Government said it was “reflecting carefully” on whether to start a consultation on the issue.


Nick Boles MP led the debate, saying he had changed his mind on assisted suicide since 2015, when the Commons defeated a bid to change the current law.

In yesterday’s two hour debate, MPs – from across different political parties – explained their support for the current law.

McInnes said she was concerned about a “subtle but dangerous culture change in which vulnerable, terminally ill patients come to see assisted dying as a treatment option and the best way to stop themselves becoming a burden to their families, the NHS and wider society”.


The prevailing “attitude towards people with disabilities”, was also a source of worry.

If one is old, frail, weak and seriously ill, one needs help, support and compassion.

Martin Vickers MP

McInnes said a disability campaigner had told her in 2015 that a change to the law could “lead to value judgments being made about whether other people’s lives are worth living or not”.

“As the campaigner said to me, ‘Someone taking their own life is seen as a tragedy, except if that person is disabled. Then it is seen as understandable.’”


The Conservatives’ Martin Vickers praised the UK’s hospice movement before warning that the “crucial” relationship between doctor and patient could be compromised with assisted suicide.

“If one is old, frail, weak and seriously ill, one needs help, support and compassion”.

The DUP’s Jim Shannon cautioned that “the right to die for the eloquent and financially well off will become a duty to die for the vulnerable”.

Legal challenge

Separately, a man who was paralysed after a car crash has said he is challenging the Government in court because he wants to be allowed assistance to kill himself.

Paul Lamb – who lost a similar legal case in 2015 at the European Court of Human Rights – is taking his challenge to the High Court.

In 2018, UK Supreme Court judges declined to hear an assisted suicide case, saying only Parliament had authority to change the law.

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