Next week, the House of Lords will debate an amendment to the Health and Care Bill at Committee Stage that would force the Government to lay an assisted suicide bill before Parliament within a year of the Health and Care Bill passing into law.
During this stage of the Parliamentary process, members of the House of Lords will debate the merits of the amendment, tabled by Lord Forsyth, and potentially vote to add it to the Government’s Health and Care Bill. If passed, it would give huge momentum to the pro-assisted suicide campaign.
Even if the amendment is not put to a vote at this stage, it is extremely important that Peers express strong opposition to this dangerous proposal, especially as the amendment is likely to be brought back and voted on at the next stage of the Bill, Report Stage, in just a few weeks’ time.
It is imperative that as many Peers as possible speak against assisted suicide at this stage of the Bill. This is the perfect opportunity for Peers to highlight that assisted suicide is unnecessary, dangerous, and extreme, and that any such amendment should be opposed. The other side is well-funded and well-organised, and they will do their best to fill the chamber with advocates for assisted suicide. We need to show that there is substantial public and parliamentary opposition to ever introducing assisted suicide in this country.
Lord Forsyth’s amendment, if added to the Health and Care Bill, would hijack the Government’s agenda and force the Government to introduce a law to bring in assisted suicide with very few details about how it would operate and even fewer details of the safeguards essential to protect vulnerable people.
It is an attempt to build upon Baroness Meacher’s assisted suicide bill, introduced last year, which would allow for someone who is terminally ill to request and be provided with a lethal prescription of assisted suicide drugs. That proposal ignores that it is difficult to accurately predict the outcome of a terminal illness, specifically the amount of time one will live with such a diagnosis. For example, research has found that the accuracy of prognoses for terminal illness can range from 78% to a mere 23%.
Furthermore, comparisons with the small number of jurisdictions that have legalised assisted suicide reveal that the recourse to life-ending treatment becomes increasingly normalised over time, often in contradiction to the original rhetoric, and has led to some of these jurisdictions allowing the youth and those with mental and non-terminal illnesses to access assisted suicide.
No doctors’ groups in the UK support changing the law, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatric Society, and the Association for Palliative Medicine.
Please enter your postcode in the box above to email Peers asking them to oppose the assisted suicide amendment next week.