Vulnerable on ‘slippery slope’ to assisted suicide, warns former Cameron aide

Society cannot be relied upon to protect vulnerable people if assisted suicide is legalised, a former speech writer to David Cameron has said.

Ian Birrell said moves “bubbling away in the political undercurrents” to change the law on assisted suicide in England and Wales would put those with autism, depression and learning disabilities at risk.

Westminster last debated changing the law in 2015, when MPs voted against the plans by 330 to 118 in a crushing defeat for assisted suicide activists.

Vulnerable let down

Writing for inews, Birrell, who worked for David Cameron during the 2010 election campaign, said: “We have let people with mental health issues and autism down in the pandemic”.

He added: “I fear our society is so dismissive of people with autism, disabilities and mental health problems that it cannot be trusted to offer them protection.”

The political commentator described an apparent “growing backing at Westminster to reform the euthanasia laws” and said that liberalising the law would be the start of a “slippery slope”.

A failing society

Birrell, a former deputy editor of The Independent, pointed to the negative effects of liberal laws on the depressed and disabled in the Netherlands and Belgium, where both assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal.

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“Activists want legal permission for older people to obtain drugs on demand to die. A court case ruled euthanasia can be carried out on people with dementia even if they no longer express clear desire to die.”

He continued: “Belgian courts recently cleared three doctors in a landmark case over the death of a 38-year-old woman whose sisters argued that she was simply depressed after a failed relationship.”

Birrell concluded: “Such deaths highlight the failures of society to embrace and support people who are different”.

Also see:

‘In a civilised society every life has value’, says bioethicist

GPs oppose legalising assisted suicide

Assisted suicide law ‘protects vulnerable from pressure to end their lives’

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