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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:58 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of The Earl of Arran The Earl of Arran Conservative 7:58 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, together with the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, I first visited Oregon some 12 years ago as part of this House’s consideration of assisted dying. Back then it was the sole state in the US to have legalised assisted dying for the terminally ill. Since then, as has already been said, Oregon has been joined by Washington, Montana, Vermont, Colorado and even the District of Columbia. Most importantly, it was joined last year by the state of California, the largest and most diverse state in the nation. These states represent some 18% of the total US population. Canada too has become the first Commonwealth country to legalise assisted dying nationwide. Law change is also imminent in parts of Australia, where the Government of Victoria have committed to introducing an assisted dying Bill by the end of the year and private members’ initiatives are likely in both Tasmania and New South Wales.

As the evidence from overseas continues to grow, our own reasons not to legislate become less and less convincing. The tide is coming in. Rather than fight in vain to prevent it, we should work together to give those in terrible pain and suffering the same rights as are given to our closest cousins in North America.