Assisted dying will be debated in Westminster Hall on 4 July at 16:30. Humanists UK has expressed hope that it will highlight the urgent need for MPs to work towards a solution that meets the needs of the UK public, where there is overwhelming support for a compassionate assisted dying law. However, today’s will not lead to any binding votes or changes to legislation.
The debate was organised following a petition to ‘legalise assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults’ which gained over 150,000 signatures. The petition said ‘The Government should bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity.’
Humanists UK argues that all assisted dying legislation should not be restricted to just the terminally ill. People who are unbearably and incurably suffering, such as humanist campaigners Paul Lamb and Tony Nicklinson, should also have the right to a dignified, compassionate death on their own terms.
In the last parliamentary session, Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill ran out of time after passing the committee stage in the House of Lords. No new assisted dying bills are anticipated in this session. A recent ONS study revealed that serious health conditions more than double the suicide rate, further showing the need for a compassionate, safeguarded assisted dying law.
Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell said:
‘Today’s debate is a welcome opportunity for MPs to consider the need for a compassionate assisted dying law in England and Wales. We hope that MPs will carefully consider the voices of people with incurable and terminal conditions.
‘A clear majority of the public want a compassionate assisted dying law and for the law to respect dignity and freedom of choice. We believe the time has come for an official inquiry on assisted dying. In the wake of today’s debate, Parliamentarians will need to be better informed and equipped to take the next steps. An inquiry would allow for a deliberative, careful process of listening to different opinions and considering all the evidence in full.’
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.