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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:06 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Low of Dalston Lord Low of Dalston Crossbench 8:06 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, I went to Oregon nearly three years ago. I asked people what they thought of their law on assisted dying. No one could understand why we did not all have one.

Some disability rights groups oppose assisted dying legislation, yet polling consistently finds that more than 80% of disabled people support such legislation. I cannot emphasise too strongly that no one is obliged to avail themselves of assisted dying legislation unless they wish to.

Research in Oregon demonstrates that groups that might be considered vulnerable, such as disabled people, are not negatively impacted by assisted dying legislation. In fact, they are underrepresented in the numbers of those who make use of it. As far as I am aware, no cases of malpractice or abuse have been reported. Nor is impairment of the doctor-patient relationship general.

We should learn from our friends in North America how best to give dying people the choices they want at the end of life, while ensuring that robust protections are in place for potentially vulnerable people.