Humanist politicians say Parliament must act on assisted dying

20 March, 2024

Pictured left to right: Silvan Luley, Andrew Copson, Nikki Davey, Annie Hoey, Emma Cooper

The All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) met on Tuesday evening to discuss assisted dying and the campaign for choice at the end of life around the British Isles. Parliamentarians at the meeting agreed that it’s time for parliament to act on assisted dying and discussed the Assisted Dying Coalition’s recent report on UK residents who have an assisted death at Dignitas.

Attending parliamentarians heard from: Emma Cooper, Convenor of Friends At The End (FATE) in Scotland; Silvan Luley, team member at Dignitas; Senator Annie Hoey, Irish Senator on the Oireachtas committee on assisted dying; and Nikki Davey, whose husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and was unable to travel to Dignitas. The meeting also showcased the release of the Assisted Dying Coalition’s new report which showed the inequality in access to assisted dying due to the affordability of travelling to Dignitas. 

Nikki Davey told parliamentarians about the story of her husband Alan. Alan suffered from MND and wanted to go to Switzerland. Nikki supported his wishes, but he needed to make his own arrangements and bookings so that she didn’t end up going to prison. Unfortunately, he was not well enough to be able to go and had left it too late. Nikki said if Alan could have avoided the last four painful months he experienced, he most definitely would have chosen to. 

Emma Cooper updated parliamentarians about the progress being made in Scotland on assisted dying. The bill currently has wide ranging support from MSPs and the public, and in fact the consultation on the bill got the highest ever response rate for a Scottish government consultation. The bill will allow terminally ill adults to have an assisted death. However there is still vocal opposition to the bill so it is incredibly important that it continues to receive support. 

Silvan Luley from Dignitas spoke of the importance of having an assisted dying law which includes the right to die for the incurably suffering. He outlined the experience of individuals who were not able to die as they wish due to the lack of an assisted dying law and the current mess of legislation in the UK. He declared that it is a fundamental human right for an individual who is incurably suffering or terminally ill to be able to choose the manner and timing of their death to avoid suffering and end their life as they see fit.

Senator Annie Hoey, shared her experience of the special Oireachtas committee in the Republic of Ireland which recommended on Wedesday that legislation should be introduced to allow for assisted dying. Just last month the UK Health and Social Care Committee released its lacklustre report on assisted dying which didn’t deliver any conclusions at all, possibly reflecting the pre-existing anti-assisted dying views of many of the committee’s members.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘Hearing about assisted dying developments in Ireland and Scotland as well as Dignitas has highlighted just how much work needs to be done in England and Wales. There is progress on every front right now but we need to make sure any laws in the UK meet the needs of all incurably suffering people. Politicians will hold a debate on this issue on 29 April, following a public petition reaching over 120,000 signatures, but what is needed now is parliamentary time to vote for assisted dying legislation.’

The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group is a cross-party group of Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords of all the main parties. The Group is not part of Humanists UK, but Humanists UK provides the secretariat.

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI) or contact other sources of support, such as those listed on the NHS Help for suicidal thoughts webpages. Support is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, and whatever life has done to them.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell at or phone 07456 200033.

If you have been affected by the current assisted dying legislation, and want to use your story to support a change in the law, please email 

Read six reasons we need an assisted dying law.

Read more about our analysis of the assisted dying inquiry report. 

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

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