Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you’re only offered ways to die.

Dr Peter Scott Morgan gave a thoughtful and provocative presentation on behalf of NDY to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well earlier this month.

He also wrote a couple of articles which have been published in The Times (£) I wrote this with my eyes — don’t tell me there’s no hope | Comment | The Times and inews

They’re both based on an article he wrote which we thought you might like to see, which is below.

All my life I’ve been passionate about equality and fairness. Consequently, when I heard of a move to update the law on assisted dying, I intuitively supported it; the intentions appeared so obviously reasonable, compassionate and humane.

But as a scientist, I’m trained to question even the obvious. So, I set about researching the Bill’s pivotal assumption that it’s possible to ensure informed choice without pressure. And I focused on motor neurone disease (MND) – the ‘cruellest disease’ and often-used justification for assisted suicide.

Fortunately, I’ve spent 30 years analysing complex social systems to predict unexpected consequences. And I also know a bit about MND because I have late-stage MND myself. Since 2017 doctors agreed I might die within six months. Now, I’m almost completely paralysed. Locked In. Allegedly, well past my death-best-before date.

My research uncovered three things.

It’s impossible to make an informed decision about your options if the medical community around you isn’t aware of how many exciting alternatives are emerging. Take my own instance. Thanks to pioneering NHS surgeries, continuous healthcare funding to look after me at home, and cutting-edge hi-tech that lets me speak in my original voice (and type this) using only my eyes – ‘invariably fatal’ MND may never get to kill me. Heart disease or dementia may do the honours. What’s more, my new capabilities will keep improving – in pace with computers.

Already, my overall quality of life is exceptional. I have love. I have fun. I have hope. I have dreams. I have a purpose. And I’ve found the trick to enjoying total paralysis is simply to imagine you’re in a luxury spa hotel and the maître d insisted you put your feet up and don’t move a muscle.

Mine is only one instance of rewriting the future of extreme disability. How many doctors tell their newly diagnosed MND patients that there’s such hope?

It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you’re only offered ways to dieLet’s give an example. To survive with MND long-term, you typically need an operation called a tracheostomy that lets a portable device breathe for you, as well as a cough-assist machine that clears your lungs of phlegm. In the UK, decisions on whether these options are available to you if you have MND are made locally not nationally. As a result, some who desperately want to live with MND are being told they must die instead – because of where they live. Less than 0.5% of people with MND in the UK receive this life-saving combination; in Japan, it’s over 30%. If I’d carried on living where I grew up, I’d have been refused treatment and died in 2019.

It’s impossible to ensure people make their decision without pressure when the current system is so unrelentingly negative.Just do an internet search of ‘MND’ and you’ll see what I mean. Avoiding coercion requires people to believe there are serious alternatives. Otherwise, it’s a sham ritual of decision making whose outcome was never really in question. Equally, I worry that many making this decision may be clinically depressed. Or so worried about the emotional and financial burden they’ll bring it feels an act of love to sacrifice themselves for the good of those remaining.

So, what do I now feel about the Bill to change the law on assisted suicide?

Confusion about the likelihood, let alone ‘inevitability’, of intolerable suffering; concern that we’re not ‘only shortening life by a few months’; worry there are insufficient protections against patients not being fully informed; uncertainty over being ‘terminal’ rather than simply ‘disabled’; anguish that some with an extreme disability may unnecessarily kill themselves in anticipation of what they incorrectly believe will inevitably happen; upset at the injustice of protecting an individual’s human right to choose to die, without putting the same effort, education and funding, into their right to thrive.

My intuition still says to update the law on assisted dying. But it must be equal and fair, otherwise, it becomes discriminatory euthanasia. Perhaps unknown to its designers, these proposals are biased towards unnecessarily culling the very people who would cost the most to keep alive and help thrive. That may be economically convenient. But it’s also cruel and uncivilised.

We’re better than that.

Dr Peter Scott-Morgan is a scientist researching breakthroughs in the clinical care of profound disability. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017.

Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bil

We Need Help to Live Not To Die.

The briefing below lays out NDYUK’s concerns about the Meacher Bill and was used at the APPG for Dying Well webinar in July 2021

Assisted suicide bills introduced at Westminster and Holyrood

Baroness Meacher speaking in the Lords

Baroness Molly Meacher, the chair of Dignity in Dying, has introduced a bill in the House of Lords to make assisted suicide legal. The second reading is expected in the autumn.

MSP Liam McArthur has laid a similar bill before the Scottish Parliament.

Not Dead Yet UK’s view

Those who support the Meacher bill and campaigners outside Parliament use the term assisted dying. That is a euphemism. This legislation would give doctors legal powers to help patients kill themselves, to commit suicide.

We don’t claim to speak for all disabled people. Some of our members used to be in favour of changing the law.

Hands cupping and surrounding wooden figures of people

But we cannot see how safeguards will work well enough for us to feel confident that a change to the law will ensure disabled people are protected. This includes protection from coercion, from feeling a burden, from limited resources or from professionals subjectively deciding our lives are not worth living.

A review of how assisted suicide legislation is operating – in Oregon, Canada, Holland and Belgium – shows our fears are well-founded.

There are no organisations run by disabled people calling for the law to change.

Disabled people are living in difficult times. Cuts to social care and health services mean we don’t get the support that we need, and the pandemic has hit us harder than any other group. We can see the argument for a change in the law; but the current backdrop means now is not the time to support the Meacher bill.

We need help to live, not help to die. The law should remain as it is and protect the majority, rather than the few who might benefit from this bill.

The issue of ‘choice’

Freedom of choice has limits; such as where choice threatens the life or wellbeing of others. Legalising assisted suicide would pressure some of the most vulnerable people to end their lives. It would set a precedent for extending assisted suicide to other groups.

Signposts pointing in opposite directions one labelled individual the other Society

Society does all it can to prevent suicidal thoughts being enacted amongst the mentally ill and those who (temporarily) feel they cannot face the future.

Those seeking a change to the law say such ideals have no place when considering severely disabled and terminally ill people. If you can take your own life without assistance, society generally strives to protect you; but, if assistance to die is needed, they argue, it should be provided.

A fundamental shift in the relationship between doctors and patients.

Doctor holding a patient's hand.

The current blanket ban on assisted suicide provides absolute protection for disabled people. Medical staff cannot suggest an assisted suicide because it’s against the law. It makes the bond of trust between patients and doctors strong.

Legalising assisted suicide will irrevocably damage that relationship.

This debate is reinforcing negative perceptions of disability. It feeds into desires for a body beautiful and a perfect life untroubled by illness.

Guilt around being a burden on the family or society

Ill and disabled people may feel that they have a duty to die. Evidence from palliative care specialists shows most people who seek assisted suicide give ‘not wanting to be a burden’ as the main reason for seeking death.[1]

Wheelchair user at the foot of stairs while people go up leaving them behind.

Some 59% of those assisted in their suicides in Oregon in 2019 stated that being a ‘burden on family, friends or caregivers’ was one of their main reasons for requesting it.[2] Some 34% of those who were euthanised in Canada in 2019 cited ‘perceived burden on family, friends or caregivers’ as one of their main reasons.[3]

Other people will face pressure from relatives to seek help to end their lives. Such pressure might be subtle, but it will be there.

This bill raises deep concerns about how disabled people are viewed by society. Many people believe people they do not know would be better off dead because of their perceptions of illness and disability.

The role of good quality palliative and social care

Those who support this bill ignore the evidence from professional medical organisations that the prognosis of date of death is extremely difficult.[4]

There are no concrete rules to determine whether a person is terminally ill and in the last months of life, or whether they are ‘suffering unbearably’.

The choice of people nearing the end of life or who are suffering might be very different if they received the palliative and social care they should get. There is no right in Britain to palliative care.

Lots of words all jumbled up with Palliative Care standing out.

With modern medicine, the cause of much of the suffering is often not the illness itself – but unmet physical, mental or social care needs.

Nearly 14% of Canadians who requested legal medically assisted suicide in 2019 cited isolation and loneliness as a factor in their ‘choice’.[5]

The vast majority of doctors specialising in palliative and end of life care do not support a change in the current law[6]. We should listen to them.

The experience abroad: Evidence of the slippery slope

The idea that we would be embarking on a slippery slope is borne out by data and experiences from countries that have introduced so-called right-to-die legislation. Most laws abroad have been expanded and restrictions loosened.

The 2002 law in the Netherlands refers to ending ‘unbearable suffering’. However, the legalisation of euthanasia in the Netherlands “has contributed to a normalization of physician-assisted dying and… an expansion of its practice”.[7]

This expansion has involved acts of euthanasia that many would regard as abuses: the expansion of euthanasia from 12-year-old children to severely disabled new-born children[8];  and an expansion from voluntary euthanasia to non-voluntary euthanasia, particularly in cases of dementia where patients are incapable of giving consent[9] and chronic psychiatric patients, from 0 cases in 2009 to 60 cases in 2016[10].

Sign saying Danger Slippery slopes keep away.

Canada introduced assisted suicide legislation in December 2015. The Canadian Government now proposes that from March 2023 patients with mental illness alone and no other underlying issues can be given medical assistance to die.

Within six years the scope of the assisted suicide legislation in Canada has been amended twice. More people are now eligible and protections weakened.

A study in Belgium found that in only half the cases in Flanders were doctors assisting suicide reporting the death to a review committee as required by the law.[11] Around14% said they didn’t report a case either because they suspected the legal requirements had not been met, or they feared possible legal consequences.


Baroness Meacher’s bill addresses the needs of a small proportion of the population. And the cost is too high. The provisions of the bill, with their inadequate safeguards, open the door to dangers for disabled people which may literally prove fatal.

We don’t believe any parliamentarian will be able to put their hand on their heart and say ‘no disabled people will die because this bill is robust and fully protects everyone from any type of pressure or mistake’.


1 Hoffenberg R. Assisted dying. Clin Med 2006672–74. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

2 Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division, Center for Health Statistics Date written February 25, 2020


4 PMC Journal- A Systematic Review of Predictions of Survival in Palliative Care

[5] First Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2019

[6] BMA Survey on Physician-Assisted Dying 2020

[7] Koopman J and Boer, T, “Turning Points in the Conception and Regulation of Physician-Assisted Dying in the Netherlands”, American Journal of Medicine Vol 129, No 8, August 2016[7]


[9] BMC Medical Ethics

[10] BMC Psychiatry

[11] Reporting of euthanasia in medical practice in Flanders, Belgium: a cross-sectional analysis of reported and unreported casesBMJ 2010; 341 doi (Published 05 October 2010)

Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

APPG on Dying Well Thursday 15 July – 5pm – Meeting in Parliament (online)

Dear Colleague,

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dying Well promotes access to excellent palliative care and/ stands against the legalisation of assisted suicide in the UK.

I am delighted to invite you to our next online meeting on the 15th July at 5pm. This is an unmissable event and first of its kind, which will be of interest to parliamentarians with a range of expertise. Especially those with interests in science and technology, medical innovation, mechanical engineering, human ethics and philosophy.

Three presenters, all of whom are disabled, will consider Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Private Members Bill from very different perspectives and viewpoints. Each presenter will test the arguments for a change in the current law and whether the proposed legislation stands up to rigorous public safety standards.

Dr Peter Scott Morgan Peter is the world’s leading robotics and AI scientist who was diagnosed with the severest form of MND ALS and given 2 years to live. 4 years later, Peter will show-case his new inventions and solutions which challenge commonly held beliefs regarding terminal Illness. Amongst them he will demonstrate a sophisticated avatar, which has given him his voice and expression back, having lost this capability a year ago when he became motionless as a result of MND. His work is gaining great traction globally as a result of his recent book, documentary and 2020 launch of the Scott Morgan Foundation:

Dr Mario  Griffiths Miro is a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, who has published on disability policy and politics, and is invited regularly to comment on current social issues. He is a member of the Disability Advisory Committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and advises the UK Department of Health and Social Care on improving disabled people’s access to health and social care provision. He is a former strategic and confidential adviser to the UK Government and European Commission. Miro has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which is a progressive condition that causes muscle strength deterioration throughout the body.

Philip Friend OBE Hon DSc Phil contracted polio as a child and is a wheelchair user. He is acknowledged as one of the UK’s foremost consultant on disability matters. He has worked on disability and diversity projects in Estonia, Romania, Poland, Germany, Canada and the USA. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to equal opportunities and disabled people and made an honorary Doctor of Science (Hon DSc) in 2009 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to equality and diversity from University of Hertfordshire. He is the current chair of the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers and Vice Chair of the Activity Alliance.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton Baroness Campbell of Surbiton is a Cross Bench Peer and Founder of Not Dead Yet UK (NDYUK) NDYUK is the leading organization of disabled people and those with a diagnosed progressive and terminal medical conditions campaigning against a change in the law on Assisted Suicide.

Please email and you will be sent joining instructions for the meeting.


Danny Kruger MP

Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

In a recent quote, DiD suggest that 88% of disabled people support assisted suicide. We asked for the data to analyse the reliability of the claims. Zeynab Al-Khero our researcher concluded the data set is small and has a number of other flaws.

The research data was based only based in Scotland and involved a total of 243 people who identified themselves as disabled. Without a clear definition of disability, DiD cannot claim the poll is the view of disabled people nationally. If we look at the term ‘disabled’ the study is based on only 87 people. It is estimated that Scotland has a million people who define themselves as disabled. The DiD survey could hardly be described as “statistically significant”.

It’s also worth noting that this was an online survey. Glasgow Disability Allowance’s COVID research showed that 60% of disabled people were experiencing digital exclusion. This means those who were able to complete the DiD online survey are not representative of the vast majority of disabled people who are disconnected from peers, services and supports.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton- Founder NDYUK said, “We always knew this was not a true reflection about how disabled people feel about the legalisation of assisted suicide. The numbers in this survey aren’t robust enough to make general statements about what disabled people do or don’t want.

Not Dead Yet have over 2000 disabled supporters, and more join our campaign every week. I think this speaks for itself. Not one organisation of or for disabled people actively campaign for a change in the law. Why do you think this is?”

We remain extremely concerned that any change to the current legislation opens the door to new risks for disabled people, as demonstrated by the changes in the law in other jurisdictions around the world (e.g. Canada and the Netherlands.)

Disabled people want properly resourced help to live, not to die. Assisted dying legislation, as proposed by Baroness Meacher, is ‘paving legislation’ in other words paving the way for future widening of the criteria to people whose medical diagnosis and prognosis are not terminal. For example, disabled people with physical, sensory, or mental health and learning disabilities.

You can help fight this attempt to change the law on assisted suicide by contacting your MP. If you need our help to do this, contact us at



Assisted dying assisted suicide Meacher Bill

Evidence of a Slippery Slope?

Supporters of our campaign to resist a law change on assisted suicide have continually expressed real concerns about the concept of  “a slippery slope”. The idea that once assisted suicide is permitted for one group it isn’t long before it’s extended to include other groups and that this is a bad thing. Our opponents have argued that this is simply not true, that a slippery slope does not exist.

Let’s briefly examine what has been happening in Canada.

In December 2015 – the Quebec Province in Canada (a regional government) passed the Act Respecting End of Life Care, which permits Medical Aid In Dying (MAID).

June 2016 – The law was extended to other Provinces and Territories, making Quebec’s law legal across the whole of Canada. It prioritises mentally ill and vulnerable people and those who have a grievous or irremediable medical condition, including people with an incurable illness or disease, and disabled people.

In March 2020 – the Canadian courts (nationwide) extended the law to include the following:

  • Removal of the requirement that death should be reasonably foreseeable
  • Only one independent witness to request for MAID
  • A personal or health care worker may be a witness
  • Removal of 10-day period for reflection
  • The waiver should be given in advance

On 17 March 2021 – the Canadian legislature expanded MAID to a broader group of people:

  • A person does not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for MAID.
  • Mentally ill patients can give an advanced waiver to sign off for MAID before they are compromised by their condition.

The numbers of people assisted to end their lives in Canada are consistently growing year on year:

The Canadian Government now propose that in March 2023 it plans to give patients with mental illness alone and no other underlying issues the option for a MAID.

Within six years the scope of the assisted suicide legislation in Canada has been amended twice with further amendments planned. More people are now eligible, the death rate is increasing and the protections have been weakened we’d call that a “slippery slope”.


Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability

Noel Conway Dies

It was announced on Friday that Noel Conway has died. We send our sympathies to his family and friends at this sad and difficult time.

Mrs Conway said he had died at home on Wednesday after deciding with his family to remove his ventilator.

She said his carers “ensured that Noel had a painless and dignified death, demonstrating empathy and concern for us all”.

Mr Conway who had motor neurone disease campaigned to have the law on assisted suicide changed. He argued that he wanted to decide on the time and manner of his death and that being assisted to die would ensure this wish. His appeal was defeated in 2018.

Baroness Campbell said “We were sad to hear of the death of Mr, Conway but pleased to hear that he died peacefully with his loving family, supported by palliative care. NDYUK campaigns for proper health and social funding and support for people at the end of their  life.”


Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Do Not Resuscitate Meacher Bil

A Message for DPOs

We are writing to seek your support in opposing the legalising of Assisted Suicide, which will soon be debated in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments. Although, over recent years, there have been several attempts to pass legislation to make Assisted Suicide legal in the UK, these have been overwhelmingly defeated. The UK Supreme Court also ruled against legalising assisted suicide.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of how disabled people are already denied life-saving support based on their impairments. How, then, can we even contemplate legalising Assisted Suicide at this point, when we are routinely denied the resources and support to assist us in living with dignity and respect?

How can you help? At the moment, we are simply asking that your organisation signs up to the statement below. Then please email us back confirming that your organisation is supportive of this. (

“We add our support to the growing number of disabled people’s organisations, both nationally and internationally, who oppose Assisted Suicide.  At a time in the UK when disabled people are recovering from the effects of the pandemic and facing massive cuts to social care support services and benefits, we need support to live, not assistance to die.”

Finally, below are links to some articles about why many disabled people object to legalising Assisted Suicide and how Covid 19 has highlighted the fact that the lives of disabled people are increasingly deemed to be of less value within our society.

We’re told we are a burden. No wonder disabled people fear assisted suicide;

6 out of 10 people who have died from COVID-19 are disabled;

Disabled people like me fear legal assisted suicide: it suggests that some lives are less worth living;

Doctors Issuing Unlawful ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Orders For Disabled Covid Patients ‘Outrageous’;


Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

We need your help.

The Meacher Bill

We need to ensure that the Meacher Bill fails to attract the necessary support in Parliament. We need your help to contact and persuade Peers and MPs of the dangers this Bill poses to many disabled people.

Letter writing, social and broadcast media work and direct contact with MP’s and Peers are critical.

We have drafted a letter you could use as a template to contact your MP.  Please feel free to edit to suit your purposes.

MP Letter Template


The BMA is due to debate assisted suicide later this year. It is crucial that they stay neutral or, if possible, are persuaded to oppose a change in the law. We need you to engage with your GP’s and other medical practitioners to express your concerns.

This is why we need a strong campaign to defeat this latest attempt to legalise Assisted Suicide.

Peter Thomas, 47 from Birmingham says, “I’m fearful of others, including some medics, questioning why I haven’t opted for assisted suicide”.

Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

Now is Not the Time

Assisted suicide legislation is a threat to disabled people’s lives, independence and peace of mind.

We recognise that there is a range of views amongst disabled people as a whole on this issue, and we can see the argument for having a sensible, rational debate about assisted dying. But not now.

In every jurisdiction where a form of assisted suicide has been legalised, the numbers dying have increased over time. Once assisted suicide is law, society has endorsed it as an option, equal to that of life. Those who had never considered it will be told that it is an option. Their families, friends, health and social care professions will all know it as an option too.

It is hard enough already for those of us with terminal illnesses and disabilities to get the support services we need to live active, independent lives. The COVID pandemic has made that harder and bought into sharp focus the value society places on us. Many of us have lost health and social care support over the last year. And 6 out of 10 COVID related deaths have been disabled people.

For essential support to become merely the alternative option to assisted suicide terrifies us. That is why no organisation of terminally ill or disabled people has sought a change in the law.

We need help to live – not to die. That means investment in palliative care, pragmatic solutions to social care provision and continued financial support for our world-class NHS.

These are the issues our parliamentarians should be concentrating on, rather than the Pandora’s Box of assisted suicide which might help the few, but at the expense of the many.

Assisted dying assisted suicide

Sunday Times to campaign for law change!

We understand that the Times and Sunday Times are supporting the latest attempt to change the law on assisted suicide.

They are backing a private member’s bill put forward by crossbench peer Baroness Meacher. The bill is scheduled to have its first reading later this week.

We would ask all of our supporters to raise their concerns by contacting the Editor of the Sunday Times.

Here is an extract from the newspaper article published on May the 23rd.

“Assisted dying is a delicate and sensitive issue. Some people are strongly in favour of it becoming legal in the UK, as it is already in a growing number of countries. Others feel strongly that it should not. Everybody, however, should agree that this is not an issue to be swept under the carpet indefinitely, and today The Sunday Times is launching a campaign to legalise assisted dying in this country.”

You can read more here