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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:05 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Howe of Idlicote Baroness Howe of Idlicote Crossbench 8:05 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, last year Canada followed Holland and legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia. Reports emerging from Canada suggest that the outcome is likely to be similar. There are also reports that, after only six months, campaign groups were pressing for relaxation of the rules.

We are told there has been no extension of Oregon’s assisted suicide law. The pressures to do so are certainly there. Last week, as it happens, an amendment was tabled in Oregon’s state legislature seeking to extend the law there so that lethal drugs could be administered to someone who loses decision-making capacity. I am concerned too about the effect of multiple prescribing in Oregon. In 2015, one doctor issued 27 prescriptions for lethal drugs; in 2016 a doctor—perhaps the same one; we are not told—wrote 25. On present figures alone, Oregon’s law would give us 2,000 assisted suicides here every year. That is not a prospect that I believe any of us should view with equanimity. I am far from convinced that our law should be changed. I look across the Atlantic with increasing concern at what is happening where it has been changed.