The Guardian newspaper has criticised a bill to introduce assisted suicide – calling it a “very big moral change” – as Peers began debating the issue today.
The House of Lords debate on Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill started this morning, with 130 Peers set to speak.
In an editorial The Guardian warned: “Reshaping the moral landscape is no alternative to cherishing life and the living.”
Its comments came as The Daily Telegraph described the bill as a “path better not taken” and the Daily Mail said a change in the law would be “a terrible and irreversible mistake”.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has also spoken out, saying he is glad he did not go through with the assisted suicide he had begun to plan.
Lord Lloyd-Webber – who composed hit stage shows Phantom of the Opera and Cats – explained that when he was in serious pain and suffering “a moment of deep depression”, he considered going to Dignitas, the Swiss suicide centre.
“With hindsight, it was stupid and ridiculous”, he said.
Other Peers have stated their opposition to Lord Falconer’s plans, which include the ‘safeguard’ that assisted suicide would only be allowed for people thought to have six months to live.
Leading palliative doctor Baroness Finlay said there were “no proper safeguards” in the bill.
She commented, it “isn’t about a right to die, we’re all going to die”. Rather, she said, it is “about a right to have somebody assist your suicide, aiding and abetting your suicide”.
And Baroness Campbell, who uses a wheelchair and has muscular atrophy, said: “I have been given six months to live probably about five times in my life”.