Humanists UK assisted dying inquiry written evidence published

22 May, 2023

Pictured left to right: Tony Nicklinson, Omid T, Paul Lamb

Humanists UK has renewed calls for compassionate assisted dying legislation for people who are terminally ill or incurably, intolerably suffering. It has done so in a submission to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into assisted dying.

In the submitted written evidence, Humanists UK stressed the importance of listening to the accounts of people who have been affected by the current blanket ban on assisted dying. We highlight several stories of Tony Nicklinson, Paul Lamb and Omid T who all faced unnecessary and cruel suffering at the end of their lives, despite their clear and settled wish to die. We juxtaposed their experiences with the story of Dawn Voice-Cooper, who was able to have a comfortable, dignified death on her own terms, but sadly had to go to Switzerland to do so.

We also outlined what safeguards a UK law should have as well as who should be eligible to have an assisted death.

Humanists UK have recently responded to a string of consultations, specifically for changes to legislation in Jersey and the Isle of Man, and calls for evidence relating to England and Wales are the latest in a string of moves by local jurisdictions. Many countries are inevitably tackling this moral question. Portugal has recently announced it will introduce an assisted dying law. In France, a ‘citizen’s convention’ voted in favour of assisted dying and a law is expected to be introduced with President Macron’s backing. In the Republic of Ireland, a special Oireachtas committee has been launched to examine assisted dying. In Scotland, the Assisted Dying Bill will enter the first stage of debate this year, after 36 MSPs backed the move.

The inquiry has held two evidence sessions so far. In the second session, international experts gave overwhelming evidence for a change in the law on assisted dying. The committee has already published its initial findings from a public survey on assisted dying, and commented on their fact-finding trip to Oregon.

Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell said:

‘Our written evidence primarily focused on two key elements of this debate. Firstly, people in the UK are currently unnecessarily suffering because they can not take control of the end of their lives. Secondly, people have the right to make decisions about their own bodies, and ultimately, their own deaths.

‘We hope the inquiry takes a compassionate, common-sense approach to this issue. No one should have to suffer unnecessary pain and indignity at the end of their lives’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell at or phone 07456200033

Read our submitted written evidence.

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.