Debate to be held on assisted suicide law

Daniel James

Daniel James

First published in Tewkesbury
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PLANS which could make it legal for terminally-ill adults with less than six months to live to choose to kill themselves have taken a step closer to completion.

Legislation has been drawn up by former lord chancellor Lord Falconer which would overturn the law that anyone who helps someone end their own life can face up to 14 years in prison.

In 2007 Worcester rugby player Daniel James travelled to a clinic in Switzerland to kill himself after suffering an injury during play which lad left him paralysed from the neck down.

Although the parents of the 23-year-old from Sinton Green travelled with him to the clinic run by the Dignitas organisation where he took a poison called pentobarbital the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute them.

Following Mr James’ death the Director of Public Prosecutions issued guidelines in 2010 saying anyone acting with compassion on the will of a dying person was unlikely to face criminal charges.

However, if the law passes through the House of Commons, it will not apply to cases such as Mr James’, as he was not suffering a terminal illness.

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have said they oppose a change in the law following concerns that people suffering from terminal illnesses would be left vulnerable to pressure from others to end their lives, but MPs have been told they will be allowed to vote freely in the issue when it is debated in Parliament at a date to be set.

Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb has backed the move, saying he believed there was "quite widespread public support" for ending what he called a "cruel" system.

Speaking on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News, Mr Lamb said: "Can we really be comfortable with a situation where people, acting out of compassion for a loved one who is dying, are left uncertain as to whether they will face prosecution?

"There need to be proper safeguards - that's critically important."

"You have absolutely got to guard against relatives or others seeking to get control of the estate. We have to be certain that it is an individual decision.”

But a spokesman for anti-euthanasia alliance Care Not Killing said the organisation was firmly opposed to a change in the law.

"What we should be discussing is how we ensure equal access to good quality medical care and life-saving and preserving drugs rather than once again debating a law that has been discussed and voted on numerous times since 2006,” he said.

Daniel James’ family declined to comment.

Comments (2)

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6:20am Fri 14 Mar 14

voledog says...

This is a matter of personal choice. A person has a choice on how to live their life, they must also have a choice on how they want to end it. Those who are opposed to euthanasia are quite welcome to wallow in lingering pain and misery at the end of their lives. I have no right to object to their choice. My personal choice would be to avoid much of that pain and misery by getting out before the going gets too bad. It is well overdue that those who wish to have that choice, if necessary when the time comes, are allowed to have their life ended without repercussions on the loved ones they leave behind.
I suppose there is an argument that some people could, often wrongly, feel slightly pressurised from relatives to end it all when they've become too much of a burden. But many healthy people spend much of their lives feeling pressurised by others too. Some people are just like that and, unfortunately, they may very well end up dying in the same way that they lived.
This is a matter of personal choice. A person has a choice on how to live their life, they must also have a choice on how they want to end it. Those who are opposed to euthanasia are quite welcome to wallow in lingering pain and misery at the end of their lives. I have no right to object to their choice. My personal choice would be to avoid much of that pain and misery by getting out before the going gets too bad. It is well overdue that those who wish to have that choice, if necessary when the time comes, are allowed to have their life ended without repercussions on the loved ones they leave behind. I suppose there is an argument that some people could, often wrongly, feel slightly pressurised from relatives to end it all when they've become too much of a burden. But many healthy people spend much of their lives feeling pressurised by others too. Some people are just like that and, unfortunately, they may very well end up dying in the same way that they lived. voledog
  • Score: -1

10:15am Fri 14 Mar 14

PrivateSi says...

The Bill is GOOD and has all the necessary protections in that I can think of, it is watertight in terms of protecting vulnerable people and mentally disturbed people... A difficult subject that had been swept under the carpet for too long,
The Bill is GOOD and has all the necessary protections in that I can think of, it is watertight in terms of protecting vulnerable people and mentally disturbed people... A difficult subject that had been swept under the carpet for too long, PrivateSi
  • Score: -1

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