Assisted dying assisted suicide Disability Meacher Bill

Assisted Suicide by the backdoor

Proposed amendments to the Health and Care Bill could change the law on assisted suicide.

Attempts are being made to introduce new clauses in the Health and Social Care Bill currently being debated in the House of Lords that would allow assisted suicide. One amendment is proposed by Baroness Meacher and the other by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, Lord Falconer of Thoroton and Lord Warner. The clauses are reproduced below.

We understand that introducing clauses in this way is frowned upon by most Peers so it is possible that they will not be accepted. Nonetheless, it is yet another example of the lengths that our opponents will go to change the law on assisted suicide.

Here are a few of the essential points to be made regarding the amendments to the Health and Care Bill.

This is a Health and Care bill and therefore it should not be used to change the criminal law.

It is inappropriate to use amendments in this bill to open the door to assisted suicide when there is already an assisted dying bill in the House of Lords awaiting the committee stage.

The amendments made in the Health and Care Bill do not take into account the experience of other jurisdictions that have legalised assisted suicide and they contain no safeguards.

We urged the House of Lords to reject these proposed amendments.

Clause 69


203 Page 62, line 19, at end insert—

“(1AA) The regulations must make provision—

(a) for anyone with a diagnosis of terminal illness to be offered a conversation about their holistic needs, wishes and preferences for the end of their life, including addressing support for their mental and physical health and wellbeing, financial and practical support, and support for their social relationships,

(b) that, where that individual lacks capacity for such a conversation, it is offered to another relevant person, and

(c) that for the purposes of section 12ZB a relevant authority must have regard to the needs and preferences recorded in such conversations in making decisions about the procurement of services.”

297 Insert the following new Clause—

“Assisted dying

(1) The Secretary of State must, within the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, lay before Parliament a draft Bill to permit terminally ill, mentally competent adults legally to end their own lives with

medical assistance.

(2) In preparing the draft Bill and any accompanying documents and in making arrangements to lay them before Parliament, the Secretary of State must take account of the need—

(a) to respect that this is a matter of conscience, and

(b) to enable Parliament to consider the issue.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment ensures that the scope of the regulations as to patient choice includes those at the end of life.

2 replies on “Assisted Suicide by the backdoor”

Thank you for your comment, Rona. I guess hospice care is all about helping people prepare and be made as comfortable as possible as they near their death. The clause that directly promotes assisted dying could allow doctors in hospices to assist in death. This is very different to the current position.

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