“Rather than legislating for an abrupt end to life, we need to find better ways to help care for the dying”, an MP has said as he led a debate on palliative care in Parliament.
David Burrowes MP was joined in the Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday by around 20 MPs.
Mr Burrowes quoted Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, who said: “You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.”
The MP’s comments come in the wake of a controversial report from Lord Falconer which advocated assisted suicide in England and Wales.
Glenda Jackson MP said it was “paramount that our society turn its face away from what could become legalised murder, and argue and press the case for increased funding, increased support for palliative care and, most markedly, support for hospices”.
In the debate Andrew Selous MP pointed out that if assisted sucicide is legalised, “many older people may feel that they are a burden and that they should bring an end to their lives”.
Mark Field MP commented: “The way in which a society looks after its most vulnerable says much about it, and if we fail to look after such people, and allow the law to change, even in a relatively subtle way, whatever the so-called safeguards, that will be a dangerous step.”
Lord Falconer’s report said that adults who are thought to have less than a year to live should be able to ask doctors for drugs which would end their life.
But Dr Peter Saunders, of pro-life group Care Not Killing, criticised the investigation behind the report, calling it “unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency”.