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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:03 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Crossbench 8:03 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, North America’s evidence is worrying. Oregon’s reports show that some people given lethal drugs, based on a prognosis of under six months, lived for up to three years before killing themselves. Who knows how long they might otherwise have lived? Two-thirds of Oregon’s doctors want no involvement. “Doctor shopping” is widespread as campaign groups steer patients to ready repeat prescribers. In the two-week delay required, they cannot possibly know a person’s domestic pressures, masked depression and subtle coercions, nor adequately assess capacity. Almost half cite not wanting to be a burden as their reason. Lethal prescription numbers far exceed such deaths. What happens to uningested drugs? No one knows whether ingestion is ever coerced.

Canada’s recent law, like the Netherlands’ and Belgium’s, includes euthanasia beyond terminal illnesses, with predictions of around one in 20 of all deaths through medically provided lethal drugs. That would equate to around 25,000 such deaths annually here. Violent suicide rates do not fall where assisted suicide is the norm.