You are here

Assisted suicide should be legal

Report recommends that the terminally ill should have the right to end their own lives

23 January 2012

Add comment

Parliament should consider changing the law on assisted suicide to enable some people with a terminal illness to end their lives at home with the help of a doctor, a report has recommended. The Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by the former lord chancellor Lord Falconer, described the current ban on assisted suicide as “inadequate and incoherent” and called for a review of the law.

The report, which was commissioned by the campaign group Dignity in Dying, recommends that three criteria must be met before a person could proceed with requesting an assisted death:

  • they are aged over 18 and are diagnosed with a terminal illness;
  • they are making a voluntary choice expressing their own wishes which are not unduly influenced by others;
  • they have the mental capacity for making a voluntary and informed choice and that their decision-making abilities are not impaired ?by mental health problems such ?as depression.?

In addition, the report identifies eight principles to be considered if devising safeguards for a system of assisted suicide, including ensuring the person has been fully informed of all other treatment and end-of-life care options, and that the opinions of two independent doctors have been considered.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “The report highlights that such a law would better protect both those who do want more choice and control at the end of their lives,and those who may be vulnerable and need to be safeguarded.”

However, Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, said the law did not need changing. “What the commission is proposing is a less safe version of the highly controversial Oregon law, which sees the terminally ill offered drugs to kill themselves, but not expensive lifesaving and life-extending drugs,” he said. “Its so-called ‘proposed safeguards’ are paper-thin and have already been rejected by British parliaments.”

Categorised in:

Vulnerable Clients