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MPs stress need for assisted dying inquiry

Westminster Hall. Photo courtesy of UK Parliament via Flickr, and subject to parliamentary copyright.

A Westminster Hall debate on assisted dying this evening saw a cross-party group of MPs emphasise the need for a public inquiry on assisted dying. This included Lucy Allan, a member of the Health & Social Care Committee, and Matt Hancock, former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

More MPs spoke in favour of assisted dying than against, by a ratio of nearly two to one.  In all, 31 MPs spoke, 20 in favour and 11 against.

All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) Vice Chair Rachel Hopkins MP said: 

‘The blanket ban on assisted dying has led to unacceptable failing in patient safety, dying people are forced to take matters into their own hands. As a humanist, I believe that people are fundamentally good, so I struggle to accept some of the caricatures of people being cynical with their loved ones at the end of life.’

‘Assisted dying reform is a matter of freedom of choice at the end of life… the current system is broken, research from the Assisted Dying Coalition found that more than one person a week is forced to end their life abroad.’

Hopkins’ fellow APPHG Vice Chair, Ruth Cadbury MP, added: 

‘This is an issue of personal choice and we as legislators must face up to and ensure the law reflects the needs of the people.

‘Legislation that banned abortions until the 1960s didn’t stop abortion it simply banned safe abortions… Similarly, we cannot prevent assisted dying from happening rather you simply condemn decisions and actions to take place in darkness, alone.’

APPHG Secretary Aaron Bell MP spoke to the ethical commitment of humanists to realising a humane assisted dying law, adding:

‘Our position is motivated by the deepest humanity and by love… We can do so much good by addressing this issue. Those going through this issue do not have time. We have taken too much time already.’

Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell said:

‘We are grateful for today’s Westminster Hall debate for helping bring to light the sheer number of people across the country who want and who support a compassionate assisted dying law. Support for assisted dying cuts across the traditional divides of political identity, religion, class, and culture.

‘Today’s discussion has shown the urgent need for an inquiry into assisted dying that can move forward the debate. An inquiry would allow parliamentarians to examine the evidence, both here and around the world, and choose the appropriate safeguards and mechanisms for England and Wales. It would put us in a position as a country to have an informed debate and finally fix our broken laws on assisted dying.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the ONS study on suicides among people diagnosed with severe health conditions.

Read more about our campaign to legalise assisted dying in the UK.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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