Labour peer Lord Falconer to table assisted dying Bill that could allow adults with less than six months to live to request help to end their lives
Opponents say changing the law could put vulnerable people under pressure 'not to be a burden on others'
Wednesday 15 May 2013
Labour peer Lord Falconer is to table in Parliament a Bill to legalise assisted dying that will seek to allow terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to request help to end their lives in England and wales.
The former lord chancellor wants to "safeguard patients" by legalising the choice of assisted dying for mentally-capable adults with his private members bill. Lord Falconer will present the his Bill for its formal first reading in the House of Lords.
The Bill would not legalise euthanasia by doctors but will allow the person choosing an assisted death to take the final action to end their life, by ingesting life ending medication.
Opponents though believe a change in the law could put vulnerable people under pressure "not to be a burden on others."
Campaign group Dignity in Dying said the Bill would provide “upfront safeguards” and ensure that terminally ill adults had “explored all their alternatives” before ending their lives.
The group said it hopes the bill will “address the suffering some dying people are facing through a lack of safeguarded choice”.
Lord Falconer said: “The public are currently ahead of politicians on this issue. The current law which forces some terminally ill people to travel abroad to die or attempt suicide behind closed doors is not fit for purpose.
“This new law will safeguard patients, protect family members and ensure that the medical profession can be involved.
“Furthermore, strictly limited to terminally ill, mentally competent adults, the Bill will not result in more people dying, but in fewer people suffering.”
Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. It is illegal in Northern Ireland. There is no offence of assisted suicide in Scotland, however the law of homicide may apply depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.
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