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Disability expert: UK politicians must continue to say no to assisted suicide

A campaigner and expert in disability policy has warned MPs against legalising assisted suicide as the issue is set to be debated at Westminster.

This afternoon, politicians will debate a petition on the issue organised by Dignity in Dying, a group leading calls for physician-assisted suicide on the NHS.

The Westminster Hall debate follows a major debate in the House of Lords towards the end of last year which saw Peers across the House raise concerns.

In 2015, when legislation was last debated in the House of Commons, MPs robustly rejected a change in the law.

Speaking ahead of the debate this afternoon, Dr Miro Griffiths, a spokesperson for the Better Way campaign, commented:

“Parliamentarians have debated the issue of assisted suicide several times in recent years and roundly rejected a change in the law as recently as 2015. This is because, when global evidence is reviewed, the litany of dangers associated with this practice become obvious.

“The evidence clearly demonstrates that assisted suicide changes societies for the worse. In other countries, access to palliative care has stagnated or declined. Existing inequalities have been made worse. ‘Safeguards’ have proved completely ineffective and have been dispensed with quickly.

“We cannot risk these harmful outcomes in the UK, especially in a “post”-coronavirus world where healthcare budgets are stretched. Instead of opening the door to assisted suicide, politicians should pursue socially just and emancipatory policies for those implicated by a change in the law.”

ENDS

The Better Way campaign is supported by:

Dr Miro Griffiths, Leverhulme Research Fellow in Disability Studies at the University of Leeds, and policy adviser to regional, national, and supranational bodies;

Phil Friend, Chair of Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC), Vice Chair of the Activity Alliance, a Churchill Fellow and a former chair of Disability Rights UK and RADAR;

Dr Kevin Yuill, a lecturer in History at the University of Sunderland and author of Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation;

Dr Ashley Frawley, senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at Swansea University in Wales;

David Albert Jones MA (Cantab), MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University, a Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre;

Joel Zivot MD, FRCP(C) MA, practicing anesthesiologist, intensive care doctor and expert witness.

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