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Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 10:17 am on 11th September 2015.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner 10:17 am, 11th September 2015

My right hon. Friend demonstrates one of the dilemmas that the Bill presents.

The National Council for Palliative Care has said:

“We believe the current Assisted Dying Bill puts vulnerable people at risk, without improving access to care”.

The heart of the issue of assisted dying goes deeper still, however—to society’s attitudes to ageing, to death and to dying. Why do so many people say, “I don’t want to be a burden”? In societies that revere the elderly, there is less fear among old people that they impose a strain on everyone else. One of my constituents put it like this:

“We are born into dependency, we rely on the goodwill of others even when we are in our prime, and dependency is a necessary feature of our senior years.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that this Bill would lead Britain to cross

“a fundamental legal and ethical Rubicon”.

Respect for life underpins our criminal and human rights laws, as well as the Hippocratic oath, taken by all our doctors, to promote life. The Bill challenges that respect for life. It would result in a major shift in these principles, fundamentally changing the relationship between a doctor and their patient. It would not just legitimise suicide, but promote the participation of others in it. Even if we consider assisted dying to be acceptable in some circumstances, the law should not be changed.