CARE believes that every life has value from its beginning at conception to its natural end; however, this position has been called into question during the 2010 – 2015 Parliament.
As the culture of individualism takes deeper root in our society with its stress on autonomy and choice in all aspects of life including death, campaigners for assisted suicide have become more vocal.
Numerous polls have been conducted suggesting public support, though crucially, when people are made aware of the practical implications of changing the law – especially the pressure it will place on vulnerable people who know they are a burden to end their lives – support falls significantly amongst the general public.
All Royal medical colleges as well as the vast majority of leading representative bodies for the elderly and disabled oppose changing the law.
Since the last election assisted suicide has been debated on several occasions in both the House of Commons and House of Lords. In 2012, Conservative MP Richard Ottaway secured a debate in the House of Commons. More recently the Labour Peer, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, introduced his England and Wales ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ in an attempt to legalise assisted suicide.
While it is clear that Lord Falconer’s Bill will run out of time and not become law, it is also clear that those behind the Bill are already working hard to seek time for this issue to be taken forward after the election in an effort to make it one of the big issues of the 2015-2020 Parliament.
Mindful of this fact it will be particularly important to ask candidates about assisted suicide at this election. The imperative for doing so, however, is compounded by the fact that this is one of the issues that is subject to a free vote so you cannot find out how your candidate will vote by consulting their party manifesto. The only way is to ask them directly!
Although assisted suicide is devolved in Scotland (which has its own Bill) and Northern Ireland, all Scottish and Northern Irish MPs can vote on assisted suicide debates in Westminster as well, so please be sure to ask candidates for Scottish and Northern Irish seats for their views too.
Questions for Candidates
- Would you oppose any attempt to change the law to legalise assisted suicide during the course of the next parliament?
- What action would you take to ensure better provision of effective palliative care across the UK?