July 3, 2022

Controversial UK commission backs assisted suicide

The UK should legalise assisted suicide, says a report by a private group headed by former lord chancellor Lord Falconer.

The UK should legalise assisted suicide, says a report by a private group headed by former lord chancellor Lord Falconer. The Commission on Assisted Dying, which, despite its official-sounding name, was funded by a right-to-die activist, argues that it is possible to craft a law which will allow people with terminal illness to die without danger of coercion, provided that strict safeguards were observed.

The main provisions of the Falconer commission’s scheme are:

  • only those with less than a year to live to seek an assisted suicide would be eligible
  • Two independent doctors would have to confirm the diagnosis.
  • The person must aware of available social and medical help
  • The decision would have to be voluntary, without any pressure, and with no sense of being “a burden”
  • They could not be motivated by a mental illness,
  • they must take the medication themselves, without help.

The controversial commission began its investigations a year ago. Its members included some well-known doctors, four politicians, and a former Metropolitan police commissioner. They were supposed to approach the topic with an open mind, but they were recruited by the lobby group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and nearly all of them were known to support assisted suicide.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, described the 400-page report as “comprehensive and robust” and hoped it would “form the foundation of future legislative change”.

However, Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, an alliance of faith and disability groups and doctors, said: “This investigation was unnecessary, biased and lacking in transparency, and its report is seriously flawed. It is being spun as a comprehensive, objective and independent review into this complicated issue. It is anything but.”

The British Medical Association had refused to give evidence to the commission. It maintained its opposition to assisted suicide. A spokesman said: “While there is a spectrum of views on assisted dying within the medical profession, the BMA believes that the majority of doctors do not want to legalise assisted dying.” ~ BBC, Jan 5

Michael Cook
assisted suicide
euthanasia
UK