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CNK responds to Starmer comments on assisted suicide and euthanasia

more: Press Releases

13th March 2024

"Against the backdrop of the Committee's recommendations ordinary voters will rightly be surprised and alarmed that the Labour Leader has decided to make this intervention."

CNK responds to Starmer comments on E&AS

Date: Tuesday 12th March 2024

Release time: Embargoed until 00.01Wednesday 13th March 2024

Care Not Killing responds to comments by Sir Keir Starmer on assisted suicide and euthanasia

Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented:

"Changing the law to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia in the UK would represent a dramatic change in how doctors and nurses treat and care for people and put the lives of the vulnerable, terminally ill and disabled people at risk.

"Indeed, these dangers are particularly acute when the health service is crumbling, hospices are underfunded and one in every four people who would benefit from palliative can't access it. This was why the Health and Social Care Committee report highlighted the need for massive improvements in services for people at their end of life.

"Against the backdrop of the Committee's recommendations ordinary voters will rightly be surprised and alarmed that the Labour Leader has decided to make this intervention. They will rightly ask is the killing of the terminally ill and disabled people really Labour's top legislative priority if they win the next General Election?"

Dr Macdonald continued:

"Sir Keir needs to recognise the real dangers associated with legalising state sanctioned killing, such as the pressure it puts on people to end their lives prematurely, and the growing body of evidence showing assisted suicide appears normalises suicide in the general populations. Indeed, academics who looked at this emerging trend concluded that legalising assisted suicide in Oregon was associated with an increase of 6.3 per cent in the numbers of suicides, once all other factors had been controlled. Among over 65s the figure was more than double that. If this was repeated here in the UK that would mean hundreds of more suicides every single year.

"While testimony from Professor Joel Zivot, casts doubt on the myth being put forward by those who want a change in the law that patients opting for the lethal cocktail of drugs die a quick and painless death. Evidence from Tennessee which uses the same drugs to kill people on death row as the ones used in Oregon suggest the inmates die from drowning in their own secretions or what doctors call a pulmonary oedema. The Professor goes on to explain why in US executions even though the person is sedated first, before the lethal cocktail of drugs is administered, the authorities have to strap down both the person's hands and even their fingers to stop them moving."

Dr Macdonald concluded:

"The current laws do not need changing."


Editors Notes

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:

  1. to promote more and better palliative care;
  2. to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed;
  3. to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.

*As this story is dealing with suicide, please could we ask that you include details about organisations that offer help and support to vulnerable people who might be feeling suicidal such as the Samaritans, CALM or similar - Thank you.*

Image © Keir Starmer / licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License 2.0


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