While the main battles in 2014 will be fought later in the year, we have already seen a number of significant moments. The legalisation of child euthanasia in Belgium has forced many to sit up and consider the real implications of society giving doctors the green light to kill their patients, and the RCGP and the Prime Minister are among those who have recently reaffirmed their opposition to changing this country's law. Read on for a full rundown of other developments.


Lord Falconer's 'Assisted Dying Bill', first tabled in the House of Lords last May, is set to be retabled at the beginning of the new Parliamentary year, which begins with the Queen's Speech on 3 June - a month later than last year. The Government parties have announced that their Parliamentarians will have a free vote on the issue, and Care Minister Norman Lamb has come out in favour, but in the past week, the Prime Minister has reaffirmed his personal opposition.

High level analysis has condemned the bill, based on Oregon's law and informed by Lord Falconer's much-criticised Commission on Assisted Dying, for the risk it poses to public safety, constituting a 'blank cheque'. Lord Falconer has himself conceded that his bill effectively places doctors above the law.

A debate in the House of Lords on the prosecution guidelines relating to assisted suicide saw powerful and timely contributions on how the current legal situation affects and protects disabled people, doctors and patients. Over 30 MPs have since signed a Parliamentary motion in support of the current legal approach to assisted suicide - is your MP among them?


Margo MacDonald's bill to permit assisted suicide for Scots has caused sporadic debate, with a number of critiques highlighting just some of the proposed legislation's many weaknesses. A poll released in late January was hailed as backing campaigners for legal change, but CNK's spokespeople in Scotland noted that the figure of 69% was in fact lower than previous polls had claimed. The Health and Sport Committee has issued a call for evidence by 6 June.


We continue to await the ruling of the nine Supreme Court justices who heard the Nicklinson/Lamb and 'Martin' appeals in December.

Around the world

Belgium's King finally signed into law the extension of euthanasia to children on 2 March, despite appeals from doctors there and abroad, a Council of Europe declaration and a petition signed by over 200,000 people. The Belgian media struggled with the international backlash, in a worrying sign of how the culture surrounding end of life care there has mutated.

The first of 2013's figures were released, with Oregon leading the charge. At the same time as the announcement that 71 Oregonians had died under the state's law in 2013, 2012's figure of 77 was revised up by 10% to 85 - it remains to be seen, then, how many people in fact died under Oregon's lax assisted suicide legislation last year.

Healthcare professionals

In a convincing demonstration of the medical profession's continued opposition to laws which would fundamentally alter the nature of medicine, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) announced in February that it would maintain its current stance against assisted suicide, following what RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker described as 'one of the most comprehensive consultations of membership that we have ever undertaken'. 77% of individual respondents favoured the current stance.

Similar resolve in pursuing care, not killing, was found at the biennial Palliative Care Congress in Harrogate. We heard from those caring for dying people every day of their working lives, who told us that they are able to deal with most of the symptoms which prompt rare requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia, giving patients precious time with their loved ones. The Congress showcased the breadth and vitality of palliative care, and to those of you we met there: hello again, and thanks for all you do.

Liverpool Care Pathway

The Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People's (LACDP) engagement exercise closed in January. Responses (read ours here) are still being collated and analysed, but in a recent interim report, the LACDP has stated that: 'Where it is currently used, the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) must be phased out by 14 July 2014. There will not be a 'national tool' to replace the LCP. Instead professionals will be expected to demonstrate attention to... priority areas... The Alliance expects to publish more detailed descriptions of the five priority areas, as well as the supporting documents, in late spring / early summer 2014'.


By far the most controversial media portrayal so far this year was the much-hyped suicide of terminally ill Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street. The storyline saw days of media debate, with one radio caller in particular making clear that unceasing advocacy for legalising assisted suicide has a very real detrimental effect on disabled and terminally ill people's self worth - how much more would a change in the law add to this?

In contrast, the series finale of Call the Midwife attracted plaudits for its positive, alternative depiction of what a good death can be, and the BBC has also started to pay serious attention to the reality of 'assisted dying' laws abroad, notably in a Radio 4 programme on Belgium.

Marathon Effort for palliative care

In keeping with our promotion of good care at the end of life, our Campaign Director Dr Peter Saunders is running the London marathon on 13 April in support of Help the Hospices. You can read his personal story and sponsor him via his Just Giving page.

What can you do?


Head to the CNK website for suggestions on how to become more actively involved - be especially sure to check our 'Live Issues' page - and follow us on Facebook or Twitter. CNK continues to be grateful for every donation.

Speak up

Please keep writing your comments online in response to articles in the media, and engage in discussions and write letters to newspapers and politicians with your views. Medical supporters can write to BMA News and medical journals.

Speak out

Our spokespeople have been making our case across the country, in the media, debates (at the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Exeter, the West of England and Leicester) and at events (notably the Palliative Care Congress). Could you speak out for 'care, not killing'?

Personal Stories

As the risks of any weakening in the law in relation to assisted suicide become increasingly highlighted, a number of you are writing to the Care Not Killing Alliance with your own experience of why you feel the law is best kept as it is. Send us your own story to info@carenotkilling.org.uk. Please include whether or not you are happy for your story to feature on our website, and visit our Personal Stories page.

Please note that CNK does not necessarily endorse the content of external links