- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On Friday 11 September 2015 the House of Commons sat to debate the “Assisted Dying Bill”.
I have heard from many of my constituents some who were for the Bill and others who are against the Bill. I have considered all the representations that were made to me.
Those in favour of the Bill argue that it is needed to relieve the suffering of the dying. Dying is not an easy matter for anyone but there have been advances in pain relief and ways to alleviate distress to manage the process of dying. In my view, improving palliative care and hospice at home throughout the country is the better alternative to assisting someone to take their own life.
Evidence from around the world shows that feeling a burden on those around them, being depressed or anxious was cited as reasons for proceeding with assisted dying. Unfortunately those reasons would fit the criteria set out in the Bill and so people would be under pressure to choose assisted suicide. Also 64% of disabled people have real concerns about moves to legalise assisted suicide.
Successive surveys and many of the professional medical bodies say that the great majority of doctors are opposed to this legislation. As they say, their role is to “do no harm and to extend not to foreshorten life”.
The Bill proposes a major change both to the criminal law and to principles underpinning medical practise. An assisted dying law would send a message that if you are terminally ill taking your own life is appropriate to consider. The law as it stands is in line with social attitudes on suicide – that it is not something to be encouraged or assisted. We should provide people with proper care and help terminally ill people to live and die with dignity.
As a clinician said we are programmed to survive not to die. End-of-life care in our country is far from perfect, yet opening the doors to doctor-assisted suicide is not the answer. We need investment in palliative care, not a weakening of the protection for those most vulnerable.
I voted against the Bill which was defeated Ayes: 118 ; Noes: 330 a majority opposing the Bill of 212. 69% of MPs attended the commons to vote and so it would be unlikely that the Bill is presented in this Parliament. <br/>
A statement from the British Medical Association can be viewed here.
A statement from the Royal College of GPs can be viewed here.
A statement from the Royal College of Physicians can be viewed here.
The Guidance from the DPP can be viewed here.