Peers must reject cynical bid to introduce assisted suicide law

Better Way has urged parliamentarians to reject a cynical proposed amendment to government health and care proposals that would force Ministers to introduce ‘assisted dying’.

Later today, Peers will debate and vote on an amendment to the Health and Care Bill by Lord Forsyth. It is designed to compel the government to introduce assisted suicide proposals within 12 months of the bill receiving Royal Assent.

Dr Kevin Yuill, a spokesperson for the Better Way campaign and author of Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, commented:

“Lord Forsyth’s amendment is not a benign attempt to open up debate. Rather, on a controversial matter of conscience, his amendment forces the Government to produce legislation on a matter the Government maintains rightly is for parliament to decide upon.

“The amendment effectively compels the Government to govern in a way it does not wish to, setting a very dangerous precedent for future debates on controversial matters. Avenues already exist for parliamentarians to raise important matters and see them debated. Assisted suicide has been considered multiple times and ultimately been rejected after careful consideration.

“Disliking the outcome of democratic debate is not a good enough reason to usurp procedure and process and undermine the authority of the government. Lord Forsyth’s amendment is improper in its approach and in its effect. As an experienced parliamentarian he should know better. We urge Peers to vote it down this evening if called to make a decision on it.”

Dr Yuill added:

“Better Way strongly opposes ‘assisted dying’. The evidence clearly demonstrates that it poses many dangers to society. In other counties, access to palliative care and other forms of specialist support has been diminished. Existing structural 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 truly compassionate and beneficial policies for those implicated by a change in the law.

We have a better vision. A vision involving world-leading access to palliative care, a redoubling of efforts to prevent suicides, action on elder abuse and loneliness, and greater disability equality. These noble goals are only attainable so long as the door to assisted suicide remains firmly shut.”


Notes for Editors:

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.

For more information contact: admin@betterwaycampaign.co.uk