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Cross-border implications of assisted suicide have not been properly considered

Campaigners have warned of dangerous cross-border implications if ‘assisted dying’ is made legal in one part of the UK.

Today, the Commons Health and Social Care Committee issued a report stating that UK minsters must consider the potential for a change in the law in at least one jurisdiction.

Assisted suicide legislation will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament before the end of this year, and moves to change the law are also being considered in Jersey and the Isle of Man.

The Health Committee made clear that a change is a matter for parliament and did not make any recommendation in terms of another vote on the issue.

Dr Miro Griffiths, a disability policy expert and spokesman for Better Way, commented:

“This report focuses on government preparedness for ‘assisted dying’ being introduced in one area of the UK. In our view, the cross-border implications of such a change have not been thought through. ‘Assisted dying tourism’ would undermine patient safety in areas where the practice is prohibited, and compound pressure on healthcare services where it is legal.

“We are deeply worried about the impact of a change in the law on patient safety, disability equality, suicide prevention and in other areas. Marginalised people facing severe forms of inequality would be subjected to overt and covert pressure to end their lives. There is simply no way to make assisted suicide ‘safe’, which is why it has been rejected time and again.

“MPs rightly recognise the postcode lottery that exists in palliative care provision. In our view it would be profoundly wrong to legislate for doctor assisted suicide at a time when the care needs of dying Brits are not being met. People would inevitably opt to end their lives due to an unjust lack of care, and there’s a risk of costly end-of-life care being disincentivised.

“The current law is the best safeguard against abuse and injustice, and the best approach for the UK is a consistent one. We urge politicians in every area of the UK to oppose assisted suicide and embrace a better way forward for dying people and other marginalised groups.”

Notes for editors:

Better Way is a non-political, not-for-profit campaign supported by experts in several fields. It was founded in 2021 to oppose assisted suicide and posit a better way forward, whilst providing a platform for marginalised voices.

Contact: admin@betterwaycampaign.co.uk