“This private commission was sponsored by Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, and financed by one of their patrons, with panel members being handpicked by Lord Falconer, a leading advocate of changing the law.
“Nine of its eleven members were known backers of assisted suicide with a strong ideological vested interest in this as the outcome. Those with a differing view including representatives from the major disability rights organisations and doctors groups were not invited to join the Commission. The overt bias in the structure of the commission is why over 40 organisations including the British Medical Association and many individuals boycotted the inquiry.
“Its terms of reference were drafted to ensure that the final report backed a change in the law and ruled out maintaining the status quo. In the commission’s own words they were to, ‘investigate the circumstances under which it should be possible for people to be assisted to die; recommend what system, if any, should exist to allow people to be, assisted to die; identify who should be entitled to be assisted to die and recommend what changes in the law, if any, should be introduced’.
“What the commission is proposing is a less safe version of the highly controversial Oregon law, which sees the terminally ill offered drugs to kill themselves, but not expensive life saving and life extending drugs. It’s so-called ‘proposed safeguards’ are paper-thin and have already been rejected three times in the last six years by British Parliaments. These recommendations if implemented will place vulnerable people under increased pressure to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. This pressure can be especially intense at a time of economic recession when families and the health service are already feeling the pinch. The so-called right to die can so easily become the duty to die.
“The current law exists to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed, or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives. It requires every case to be reviewed by the police and the DPP to determine whether a prosecution is appropriate. The present law protects those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion, acts as a powerful deterrent to would-be abusers and gives discretion to judges to temper justice with mercy in hard cases.
“The current law does not need changing.”
For media enquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson of Media Intelligence Partners Ltd on 07970 162225 or 0203 008 8145.
Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together over 40 organisations - human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups - and thousands of concerned individuals.
We have three key aims:
• to promote more and better palliative care;
• to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed during the lifetime of the current Parliament;
• to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.
We seek to attract the broadest support among health care professionals, allied health services and others opposed to euthanasia by campaigning on the basis of powerful arguments underpinned by the latest, well-researched and credible evidence.