Two new attempts to change assisted suicide laws


The House of Lords was the scene in early June of the two latest attempts to weaken the law on assisted suicide.
The first move was an appeal to the Law Lords by Debbie Purdy, from Bradford, west Yorkshire, who has multiple sclerosis.
Purdy, who has already lost cases in the high court and court of appeal, wants to know if her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her travel abroad to die at the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.
In the same week, the former Labour Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, backed by Lord Lester, Baroness Jay and the disabled peer Lord (Colin) Low, tabled an amendment to the coroners and justice bill that would legalise assisting the suicide of a person who was travelling abroad to die.
The Care Not Killing alliance (CNK), which campaigns against weakening the law on assisted suicide, and includes disabled people’s organisations such as the UK’s Disabled People’s Council and RADAR, warned that Britain was “in danger of sleepwalking into euthanasia”.
Dr Peter Saunders, director of CNK, said a change in the law would lead to older people and those who are depressed or disabled being “placed under pressure, whether real or imagined, whether overt or subtle, to end their lives so as not to pose a financial or care burden to relatives or the state”.
He added: “This pressure will be particularly acutely felt at a time of economic recession, with cuts in health spending imminent.”


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