Assisted dying

Lord Soley

On Tuesday the House will debate Lord Falconer’s amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill that would allow a friend or relative to accompany a person who travels to a clinic where there is assisted dying. Like many Peers I have received letters and emails about this.

I shall vote for the amendment. Assisted dying for terminally ill people is allowed in a number of countries and currently the law in Britain is unclear about the legality of travelling with a person to such a clinic.  The 1961 Suicide Act criminalises anyone who aids, abets, counsels or procures someone else’s suicide. Although this hasn’t led to any prosecutions I think we need to make it clear that no offence can be committed by accompanying a person to such clinics. People caught up in such tragic situations do not need the threat of a prosecution hanging over them.

4 comments for “Assisted dying

  1. Croft
    06/07/2009 at 9:26 am

    What are the party voting lines, is it being whipped?

  2. Troika21
    06/07/2009 at 11:26 am

    If the law “criminalises anyone who aids, abets, counsels or procures someone else’s suicide” does that include this debate?

    I’m just wondering what the current law actually makes illegal. I remember having a conversation with my grandma about euthanasia, she said she did not want to become ‘jelly’ and I agreed, would this fall under the existing law?, or does it just criminalise telling someone to commit suicide?

  3. Clive Soley
    06/07/2009 at 9:45 pm

    Croft. There is no whip on the vote from the Labour Party and I thnk the same is true of the other parties.

    Troika.It won’t include the debate partly because Parliamentary debates are privileged but also because we are debating a clarification and amendment of the law.

    The current law means you cannot legally assist a person to kill themseleves. For example you cannot supply them with a lethal overdose of a drug knowing that they intend to kill themseleves or encourage them to do so. Discussing with your granmother whether she wants to become ‘jelly’ would not be against the law. Telling her she will become jelly and that she ought to commit suicide and encouraging her to do so probably would be.

  4. Senex
    08/07/2009 at 3:44 pm

    New Labour! A suicide in progress?

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