A move to remove the threat of prosecution from those who go abroad to help an "assisted suicide" was defeated in the House of Lords last night.
The amendment to the Justice & Coroners Bill had been introduced by the former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, who had said there was a legal "no-man's land" that required clarity. It is currently illegal to assist suicide by taking a terminally ill person to die abroad, a crime which is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. At least 115 people from the UK have gone to Swiss clinic Dignitas to die to date but no-one has been prosecuted.
In a free vote the Lords defeated the amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill by 194 to 141. The debate in the Lords re-focused attention on the issue of assisted suicide, drawing sharp criticism from church leaders and advocates for the disabled.
The amendment called for the law to be waived if two doctors confirmed the person in question is terminally ill and deemed competent enough to make such a decision to end their life.
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