Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue’s article on assisted suicide can be viewed here.
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Please keep emails/letters to a maximum of 300 words (shorter is fine). Letters cannot be published without a name and postal address. Also, include a daytime phone number if possible.
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When emailing/writing, please first explain that you are contacting them to respond to Yvonne Fovargue MP’s recent comments in support of assisted suicide and then state that you would like your letter published. Then include in your own words one or two of the following arguments in response to Yvonne Fovargue’s comments:
- Yvonne Fovargue claims assisted suicide gives people “the choice to control their death” but the evidence suggests otherwise. There is a huge danger of subtle pressure for people to consider it as an option, sometimes even coercion, and others making decisions on behalf of vulnerable people not able to give meaningful consent. A large proportion choose assisted suicide because they feel like a burden. In 2021, 35.7% of those seeking assisted suicide in Canada gave as a reason their perception that they felt like a burden on those around them, along with 54.2% in Oregon.
- Yvonne Fovargue argues that we should allow assisted suicide for those whose “suffering is unbearable” but this is a subjective experience that will be handled differently by different people; what is unbearable for one person might be manageable for another. Therefore, it cannot be accurately and impartially measured, so it is impossible to apply a consistent threshold across different patients.
- Whilst often beginning as a narrow proposal to facilitate assisted suicide or euthanasia for those with terminal illnesses, the evidence from overseas shows that provisions quickly expand to include people with mental illness, children and those with non-terminal conditions. The expansion of assisted suicide in the countries Yvonne Fovargue cites shows that it is impossible to introduce the “right safeguards” she herself concedes would be necessary; in each case, safeguards accompanying initial legislation were soon reinterpreted or changed.
- Yvonne Fovargue says “we have a duty to bring this matter before Parliament again”. However, this issue has been considered and firmly rejected multiple times in recent years, with six separate attempts in legislation being rejected since 2014 alone, including a vote in 2015 where they rejected it by 330 votes to 118 (a vote where Yvonne Fovargue was absent). Parliament has had ample opportunity to consider the issue and already expressed its will clearly.
- Yvonne Fovargue fails to mention the Netherlands where euthanasia and assisted suicide now account for over 4% of deaths in the country. In Canada, assisted suicide was legalised in 2016 and the number of deaths by assisted suicide was 1,018. In 2021, it was 10,064, which is an 889% increase and made up 3.3% of all deaths in Canada. In Belgium, the number of cases of assisted suicide or euthanasia have increased by over 150% in ten years.
- Yvonne Fovargue rightly mentions the importance of good palliative care. However modern palliative care is now so advanced that no one should have to die in unbearable pain. In Oregon, inadequate pain control (or concern about it) was cited in just 27.5% of cases between 1998 and 2021, compared with losing autonomy (90.9%), followed closely by less ability to engage in activities making life enjoyable (90.2%), demonstrating that pain is not the reason for considering assisted suicide in most cases.
- Yvonne Fovargue states: “each person nearing the end of their life should feel reassured and safe in the knowledge they will receive the best care”. However, when assisted suicide is legalised, evidence suggests that end-of-life provisions get worse and assisted suicide even becomes a means to cut costs.
It is usually more helpful to speak of ‘assisted suicide’ than to use the misleading phrase ‘assisted dying’.
If appropriate, explain that this is an important issue for you that will be a key factor in determining how you vote at the next General Election.