Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Who opposes the Assisted Dying Bill?

Scope is against legalising assisted suicide – read three reasons why.

Along with the Prime Minister, disabled activists, doctors, lawyers, older people’s charities and national newspapers, we are opposed to what would be a major change in the law.

Here are some of the reasons why they are opposed to the Assisted Dying Bill: 

Action on Elder Abuse, Mencap, Scope and Veterans Association (Joint Letter to Peers, July 2014)

“An assisted suicide law would for the first time in this country introduce the idea that there are some people whose deaths can actively be brought about; whose suicide, unlike other people’s, society would make no significant effort to prevent and indeed would actually assist.”

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton

“The existing law on assisted suicide rests on a natural frontier. It rests on the principle that we do not involve ourselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of other people. What the proponents of “assisted dying” want is to replace that clear and bright line with an arbitrary and permeable one. At the moment they say they want assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill, but for how long will that last, and who decides what is terminal? If terminal illness, why not chronic and progressive conditions?

“And, if chronic and progressive conditions, why not seriously disabled people? I am already on the list. Lord Falconer himself conceded three years ago that assisted suicide should not be offered to disabled people “at this point in time”. This sent a shiver down my spine: it is reminiscent of Belgium’s slippery slope.”

Baroness Grey – Thompson

“Why are people worried? It is because many disabled people are not terminally ill. However, many terminally ill people experience some sort of impairment and there is a great deal of confusion around that. There is a myth that our lives are so tragic or painful that we must want to end them. Just this week I was told, “You must have wanted to kill yourself many times in your life”. No, I have not. I have experienced excruciating pain. When I was 19, I snapped a metal rod off my spine that came out through my skin, but I have never considered killing myself. The fact is, however, that many people expected that I would ask for that. What if those people were related to me?”

David Cameron, Prime Minister

“For myself I am not convinced that further steps need to be taken, I worry about legalising euthanasia and people might be being pushed into things that they don’t actually want for themselves…”

The Church of England

“The Church of England cannot support Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill…. Patient safety, protection of the vulnerable and respect for the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship are central to the Church of England’s concerns about any proposal to change the law.”

A Joint Letter from 23 British faith leaders (July 2014)

“The Assisted Dying Bill would allow individuals to participate actively in ending others’ lives, in effect colluding in the judgment that they are of no further value. This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society.”

British Medical Association

“Current BMA policy firmly opposes assisted dying for the following key reasons; Permitting assisted dying for some could put vulnerable people at risk of harm; such a change would be contrary to the ethics of clinical practice, as the principal purpose of medicine is to improve patients’ quality of life, not to foreshorten it; legalising assisted dying could weaken society’s prohibition on killing and undermine the safeguards against non-voluntary euthanasia.

“For most patients, effective and high quality palliative care can effectively alleviate distressing symptoms associated with the dying process and allay patients’ fears. Only a minority of people want to end their lives. The rules for the majority should not be changed to accommodate a small group.”

Royal College of General Practitioners

“The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is to remain opposed to any change in the law on assisted dying.

“[GPs] were against a change in the law for a range of reasons, including that a change in the legislation would… put the most vulnerable in society at risk; would be impossible to implement without the possibility that patients may be in some way coerced into the decision to die; shift the focus away from investing in palliative care and treatments for terminal illness; instigate a ‘slippery slope’ whereby it would only be a matter of time before assisted dying was extended to those who could not consent due to reasons of incapacity and the severely disabled.”

Royal College of Surgeons

“The law as it currently stands should not be changed and no system should be introduced to allow people to be assisted to die.  The College does not recognise any circumstances under which it should be possible for people to be assisted to die.”

As always, we welcome your thoughts on the issue. 

2 thoughts on “Who opposes the Assisted Dying Bill?”

  1. ‘At the moment they say they want assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill, but for how long will that last, and who decides what is terminal? If terminal illness, why not chronic and progressive conditions?’

    Exactly — ‘why not chronic and progressive conditions’ indeed. I have a debilitating illness that can and often does leave me unable to live a satisfying life, I am unable to do what I want to do, be it work or many other activities. I want the law to be changed in order to make it possible that a person in my condition, if he or she genuinely wishes, to escape a life that he or she no longer finds tolerable.

    I have no problem with people who wish to carry on as best they can against the debilitating effects of chronic illness or disability. I do what I can with my depleted powers. Nobody should be coerced into thinking that a particular life is not worth living. But there should also be the right to escape such a life if a person genuinely feels that way.

    If one believes in maximising the freedom of the individual, then people should be able to make important choices; the right to escape an intolerable life should be one of them.

    Dr Paul

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