Assisted Suicide Debate Continues
The revelations of BBC presenter Ray Gosling this week concerning an apparent confession of a mercy killing has again brought the debate of legalisation of assisted suicide into focus.
Gosling, who told viewers of the Inside Out programme how he smothered his unnamed partner as he lay in hospital suffering from Aids, joins the growing number of people speaking out in favour of assisted suicide.
Terry Pratchett has long been an oustpoken supporter of the creation of a euthanasia tribunal to look at an individual’s case for assisted death, saying “government cannot sidestep the ¬responsibility to ensure the protection of the vulnerable and we must respect that. It grieves me that those against assisted death seem to assume, as a matter of course, that those of us who support it have not thought long and hard about this very issue. It is, in fact, at the soul and centre of my argument.”
Indeed, former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is spearheading a debate on the topic of assisted suicide before the next election. She and the campaign group Dignity in Dying — of which the Labour backbencher is also a patron — are discussing whether to try to table an adjournment debate in the House of Commons before voters go to the polls. The election is widely expected to be held on May 6.
Ms Hewitt said: “Parliament is way behind on this issue. You can see through a number of opinion polls that the public want to see a change in the law. So far we have had to rely on the courts to insist on a change in prosecution policy. The Government has refused to act.
“I am discussing with Dignity in Dying if we can get an adjournment debate before the election. In practice, it would mean that a backbencher is able to make a speech in the Commons which is answered by a minister.”
Last July a move to make it legal to help a terminally ill person to die was defeated in the House of Lords. The measure would have removed the threat of prosecution from those who go abroad for an assisted suicide. All three of the main political parties have agreed that should there be a vote on assisted suicide, it would be a conscience ballot with no party line.
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