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Westminster Hall debate

more: Press Releases

11th November 2008

Dr Brian Iddon MP spoke against the legalisation of assisted suicide...

Dr Brian Iddon MP, chairman of Care Not Killing, spoke against Evan Harris MP in a Westminster Hall debate on the subject of assisted suicide:

MR SPEAKER: I declare an interest as Chairman of CNK Alliance Ltd, a national organisation set up to oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide and voluntary or involuntary euthanasia, and to promote high quality palliative care in the UK.

Care Not Killing was established in January 2006 as an alliance of palliative care, disability rights and faith-based organisations to oppose Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill. Lord Joffe's third attempt in five years to legalise physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in England and Wales was defeated at its Second Reading, on the 12 May 2006, by 148 to 100. Separate attempts are being made to legalise PAS in Scotland.

Rumours are circulating that Lord Joffe will make a fourth attempt in the forthcoming Session of Parliament. I believe that I was asked to lead CNK because I oppose the legalisation of physician assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia from a non-faith background. Read more...

Responding to the debate, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well released a press statement, reproduced below with their permission:

MPs today debated the law relating to assisted dying. The 90 minute debate, instigated by Dr Evan Harris MP, considered many of the legal issues surrounding the law relating to assisted dying and drew on the few but high profile cases which have been reported recently in the media. Dr Harris (a proponent of a change in the law to allow legalised assisted suicide) alleged that the current law is unclear and should be changed so that, "we have a law which says what it means and means what it says."

Speaking against a change in the law, Dr Brian Iddon MP said: "Hard cases make bad law." Dr Iddon went on to say that "The law does not need clarification. It is quite clear."

Much of the debate focused on the need to protect vulnerable groups who may be put at risk if Parliament passed a law to allow assisted dying. Dr Iddon argued that if the law in this country was changed, "a right to die, over time, becomes a duty to die".

Labour MP Dr Iddon was supported by conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis who discussed the potential safeguards contained in a possible new law. He stated that "There can be no safeguards that adequately protect everyone." He argued that regardless of the strictest safeguards, it is impossible to create a safeguard which would provide protection to a person who is being privately coerced into ending their life, or a person who feels they are a burden on those around them.

Prior to this debate, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well said: "What we have at the moment is a law with a stern face and a not unkind heart…[a law which] does not give blanket immunity from prosecution to those who aid and abet suicide, rather it judges each case on the evidence."

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well was established to promote palliative care and to oppose legalisation of assisted dying. The Group is not faith based nor is it connected to any faith based groups which happen to be similar in nature.


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