Almost seven weeks after it was announced, and barely seven weeks until MPs - many of whom are now on holiday - debate it, the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill is finally published
Labour backbencher Rob Marris's Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill, which follows closely the lead of Lord Falconer's bills in the House of Lords (2013-4, 2014-5, 2015-6), has been published. While Parliamentary bills are usually published on Parliament's website, the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill's contents and explanatory notes do not yet (i.e. as of the afternoon of 27 July) appear there, and were rather disclosed at news site Politics Home.
The Bill's stated purpose is
to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life
and it retains, as did the most recent version of Lord Falconer's own bill, the provisions relating to the High Court first proposed by Lord Pannick in November 2014.
The cry is often heard that 'we need the debate'. Writing last autumn, Inverness-based consultant physician in palliative medicine Dr Stephen Hutchison said
I do wonder where those who make that last demand have been for the past 20 years because we've repeatedly had the debate in public, in the media, and importantly, several times in Parliament. Let's be honest. It's not just a wish to 'have the debate' is it? It's really a determination to get it legalised.
The Bill's content has been made public late in the day - the Parliamentary debate looms larger in our future than does the initial announcement in our past. This is despite the fact that the content is broadly the same as Lord Falconer's current version in the Lords, which was published in May. It was also drafted by Dignity in Dying (the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society), to whom Rob Marris, in whose name the Bill is before the Commons, is directing all enquiries and who have been commenting sporadically on the Bill's content as it suits them for weeks. Do proponents of assisted suicide really want debate?
The Bill's content is, however, now in the public domain. If you haven't already contacted your MP or if you were told that they wouldn't comment on a bill they hadn't read, now is your time. Act today.