*Please note: This Bill did not pass its second reading debate on 11 September 2015 and will make no further progress.*

 

Thank you for contacting me in relation to the proposed Assisted Dying Bill. This is an issue which I have considered very carefully over the years, and continue to do so.

 

The onset of a terminal illness is a tragedy for the individual and their loved ones. The decline of a once fit and active person, often in considerable distress and pain is extremely upsetting. It is understandable that in such circumstances some will look for a release. Recent advances in medicine have in fact ironically increased the risk of people experiencing longer, frailer life.

 

Whilst realising that this is, of course, an extremely difficult area, I believe that human life is intrinsically valuable and sacrosanct.

 

The principle that some individuals’ lives are worth far less that others because they are sick, frail or needy is one that should never be espoused. I also fear that, if assisted dying is legalised, older people may feel pressurised into ending their lives if they feel that have become a burden on loved ones. We should never place anyone in this position.

 

I believe that there is the danger that what appears to be a voluntary request to die is no such thing. We could unwittingly find ourselves in a situation whereby it is expected of the elderly and vulnerable that they should opt for assisted death. I fully appreciate that is not the intention of supporters of the Bill, but a possible unintended consequence.

 

Though I do not believe that the present law is perfect, it does at least draw a clear distinction between the removal of treatment and allowing nature to take its course on the one hand, and the active commission of death on the other.

 

Whilst I accept that there needs to be some clarity on this issue, I cannot in conscience support assisted dying. The advance of greater pain relief, compassion and care at the end of life is still something of huge value to humanity. I am not yet persuaded that there is a better course.

 

I do thank you for getting in touch with me to express your views.