UK MPs debate controversial right to die bill

2015-09-11 17:34
(Justin Tallis, AFP)

(Justin Tallis, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - Rival protesters rallied outside parliament in London on Friday as lawmakers debated a bill to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives that has sparked fierce opposition from religious leaders.

It was the first time in 20 years that British MPs have discussed the controversial issue, although the backbencher-proposed bill itself is not expected to become law and is opposed by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Around 200 campaigners came out in favour of the bill and there were dozens of protesters against it.

"82 Percent of Britons Support Assisted Dying and the Current Law is Broken: Fix It!" read placards held up by supporters, while opponents' signs read: "Do No Harm. Vote No" and "Assist Us to Live, Not Die".

Anglican leader Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the heads of all of Britain's main faith groups wrote a joint letter to MPs last week urging them to throw out the assisted dying bill.

"While it is not a crime in the UK for someone to take his or her own life, we recognise that it is a tragedy and we, rightly, do all that we can to prevent suicide.

"The assisted dying bill requires us to turn this stance on its head, not merely legitimising suicide, but actively supporting it," they said.

Under the plans being considered, two doctors and a family court judge would have to assess the patient's prognosis and confirm they were mentally competent and made the decision free from coercion.

The patient would still have to administer the lethal medication themselves.

"At present, the law denies dying people the choice of a safe, legal assisted death, whilst turning a blind eye to home suicides, and to technically illegal actions by doctors, and to Dignitas deaths," said Rob Marris, the MP from the main opposition Labour party who is proposing the legislation.

"As an MP, as a lawyer, and as an individual, I am convinced that we can and should allow better choice for dying people."

Friday's vote is only a first step if the bill were to become law, and it faces a daunting passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords if it is to get over the initial hurdle.

MPs are free to vote according to their conscience and the parties are not imposing a whip or party line for voting, as would usually be the case.

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg as well as in the US states of Vermont, Oregon and Washington.

Read more on:    uk

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.