Assisted Dying

Part of Sale of New Petrol and Diesel Cars and Vans – in the House of Commons at 3:54 pm on 4th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Karin Smyth Karin Smyth Labour, Bristol South 3:54 pm, 4th July 2019

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. He must have seen the next point in my speech, because it is exactly that. Geoffrey and Ann’s story has been the prompt for this debate, but they are not the only family to go through this process. More than 400 Britons have died at Dignitas, and one Briton is dying in Switzerland every eight days. Every person who dies leaves behind a loved one facing the risk of prosecution. He is absolutely right: they have parted with more than £10,000. The family were very open with us that they could afford that, but most of my constituents in Bristol South absolutely cannot afford anywhere near that sort of money. This is a cross-party debate, and people have their individual views, but for me, as a socialist, it is eminently wrong that people who have resources can have that choice and those who do not cannot. That is one of the many reasons why I think we need to change.

The vast majority of people in this country who are dying of a terminal illness can expect a comfortable, dignified and pain-free life. The palliative care service is amazing, and I have worked with many clinicians over time, but they cannot alleviate all symptoms.

I just want to add that a third of patients in Oregon who request assisted dying do not use it. The autonomy that is granted by the choice is very comforting. Autonomy, choice and dignity are important. We must do better with our laws. Our law is outdated, unpopular and uncompassionate. It is time to look at the undue suffering that the blanket ban on assisted dying is causing people at the end of their life, because compassion is not a crime.