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Parliament should have a free vote on assisted dying, says Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats have reaffirmed their support for a debate and free vote in parliament on legislation allowing medically assisted dying.

24 September 2012

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At its autumn party conference yesterday (23 September 2012), the party passed its policy motion Medically Assisted Dying, which calls for parliamentary time to be allotted to a private members bill when it is tabled.

The motion was led by Chris Davies MEP.

He said: “As the recent case of Tony Nicklinson demonstrated, there are a number of people with conditions that inflict unendurable suffering and from which they have no chance of recovering, who want to end their lives but are unable to do so without medical assistance.

“More than 200 British citizens have now made their way to Switzerland to have their wishes met and secure help to die.

“It is time for parliament to act, and our European neighbours, Belgium and the Netherlands, have proven that laws can be framed to include safeguards that prevent the risk of abuse.

“Liberal Democrats believe MPs should be given the chance to have a free vote on legislation to allow people, in specific circumstances, to end their life with medical help,” Davies continued.

A private members bill on assisted dying is due to be tabled next year in the House of Lords.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, welcomed the the move. “This motion marks another important development in the campaign for a change in the law.

“While the motion goes beyond the remit of Dignity in Dying’s campaign to make legal the option of assisted dying for terminally ill adults only, we welcome the debate and the Liberal Democrats commitment to addressing a key issue of our time,” she said.

Dignity in Dying, in conjunction with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life, has published for consultation a draft assisted dying bill that former Secretary for State for Justice Lord Falconer QC has committed to tabling as a private members bill in the House of Lords once the APPG has reported.

The consultation closes in November. For more information see http://www.appg-endoflifechoice.org.uk/bill_consultation

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