Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Disabled people assemble mass lobby to urge MPs to reject assisted suicide bill

Disabled people descended on Westminster today in droves to lobby MPs on Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying (no 2) Bill.

Marris wants to give adults who are terminally ill and mentally competent the ‘right’ to have assistance to kill themselves using lethal drugs on the say-so of two doctors and one high court judge. The bill is due its second reading on 11 September.  

Disabled stand-up comedian and actress Liz Carr (pictured left) addressed the gathering and was introduced by former Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (below). 

They later visited no 10 Downing Street to hand a letter to the Prime Minister (see below).

I’ve written a summary of Liz Carr’s speech here. This is based on my (not fully legible) handwritten notes and does no justice to Liz's sense of humor and eloquence but at least it will give you the general gist. The talk was recorded so I will post a link to the video here once it has been produced. Any errors in transcription are mine and mine alone:

Summary of Liz Carr's speech 

We shouldn’t be fooled by the term ‘assisted dying’. This is assisted suicide. So let’s call it what it actually is. It’s about people having help to kill themselves.

The former name of Dignity in Dying (DID), the organisation pushing this bill, is the ‘Voluntary Euthanasia Society’. They will use any euphemism to distort the facts and disguise their wider agenda.

Their main weapons are misinformation, emotion and fear – fear about pain, dependence and disability. So we have to fight this fear with facts and truth.

Is there anyone in this room who wouldn’t prefer a pain free death with dignity? Of course not. We all want that. But this law is not the way to achieve it.

Assisted suicide is not about having a painless and pleasant death either. The drugs are unpleasant and they often do not work quickly. Far better to be in the hands of a doctor trained in good palliative care who can relieve your symptoms properly.

We are being cast as uncompassionate for opposing this bill. But we are not the people who lack compassion. We understand what it is like to suffer and to have limited options.

I’m able to speak here today because I am loud, articulate and have been on telly. But I speak on behalf of many who are unable to speak in their own defence – vulnerable and disabled people who don’t have access to the drugs, housing , social care, support and choice they would like.

DID talk about having choice, but I speak for people who do not have a real choice. The proponents of this bill are offering a very narrow choice indeed to a very limited number of people.
 
If DID really believe in compassion then why don’t they use some of their millions of pounds of resources to ensure that everyone who is vulnerable or dying has good care and support rather than being steered toward suicide?

Anyone can have worth and dignity if they have proper care and support.

The term ‘right to die’ is rubbish. We are all going to die. What is really being talked about here is the right to be killed, something altogether different.

Suicide is already legal and everyone who is serious enough about it is already able to kill themselves. But this bill is about people who want someone else to do it for them. It’s about socially approved suicide. It’s about making suicide socially acceptable when it is actually something we should be trying to prevent.

Anyone can already kill themselves without assistance – by simply stopping eating, taking an overdose or even driving their wheelchair down the stairs. I’m using these examples to make a point – not suggesting that anyone do it. But the point is, why then do we need to change the law to allow people to be assisted to do what they can already do without assistance?

This bill wouldn’t actually help the tiny number of people like Tony Nicklinson who are unable to kill themselves. We will then be told that it is cruel to discriminate against these people and that we should legalise euthanasia as well.

We hear a lot about the term ‘slippery slope’. I don’t use this term because this widening of the law we see in every country that has legalised it is not a passive process. It’s much more accurate to call it ‘incremental extension’.

Let’s have no illusions about the wider agenda. I was in Luxembourg just after they changed the law. The MPs who were pushing for it wanted it for children and elderly people with dementia as well. But they knew they wouldn’t get it so they went for the softer target of the terminally ill.

It is no different here. DID say it is only for mentally competent adults with less than six months to live but think about the people they are using to make their case – Tony Nicklinson, Debbie Purdy, Jeffrey Spector, Paul Lamb, Terry Pratchett. Not one of them actually fits with their definition. None of them are actually terminally ill.

But through these cases they are softening up public opinion for a much bigger legal change.

They say they only want suicide for people with terminal illnesses. And yet they also say they want to prevent vulnerable people – say with mental illnesses – from committing suicide. But many people with terminal illnesses are not desperate to die and many people without terminal illnesses are.

So why do we have one law for one group and another law for the other? This is really just discrimination. It’s saying that it is good for people who are terminally ill to kill themselves – but bad for younger people with mental illness to do so.

But we can’t on the one hand push for suicide prevention for one group of people and encourage suicide for another group. This is a dangerous and confusing mixed message. 

And just how workable will this law be in practice? Two doctors are supposed to assess whether a given patient has mental capacity, is terminally ill and has not been coerced. Think of how busy your own GP is and how well they know you. How can they possibly be expected to make an objective judgement about these things?

When I did my euthanasia tour I talked to people involved in the group Compassion and Choices – the equivalent of DID in the US. Their strategy was very clear – push for 10-15 years with stories of desperate cases and eventually public opinion will change and the law will follow.

DID are using the same techniques here and lining up all their celebrities to endorse it. They have all the money and all the media support. But we have no money and our only celebrities are me and the Pope!

I am terrified by this bill. I am terrified because as a disabled person I have experienced first-hand how poorly our society values disabled people. It's the same with elderly people. 

I’m always been told, ‘If I was like you I’d kill myself’. ‘If I was like you I’d want to die.’ There are people who sincerely believe that people like me are better off dead.

But I don’t want to die. And to talk about choice when so many vulnerable and disabled people do not have a choice about basic care, housing and support is to put us in a very dangerous position indeed.

This is really serious. It’s about life and death. If this bill becomes law some disabled and vulnerable people will be subjected to exploitation and abuse and will die as a result.

The very reason we don’t allow capital punishment in this society is because the best police investigation and the best judges can come to the wrong conclusion and execute an innocent person.

This bill if passed will also mean that innocent people get killed. The current law protects people against this kind of abuse. It does not need changing.

I appeal to you to join me on 11 September in opposing this bill. 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Experts in care of the elderly speak out strongly against assisted suicide

The leading organisation representing health professionals caring for the elderly in Britain has this last week spoken out strongly against the legalisation of assisted suicide.

The British Geriatrics Society is the professional body of specialists in the health care of older people in the United Kingdom.

It has over 2,750 members worldwide and draws together experts from all the relevant disciplines in the field - doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and scientists.

In a powerful statement issued on 10 July the society says that whilst it respects that patients have a  ‘right’  to determine the choice of treatment and care they receive and some symptoms are ‘difficult to control’ a policy which allows physicians to assist patients to die is ‘not acceptable’.  

Speaking from the experience of caring for ‘many older people with frailty, disability and those who are dying’ the experts ‘accept life has a natural end’ and believe that their job is not to ‘prolong life at all costs’ but to ‘improve quality of life’ whilst accepting that death is inevitable.

They express deep concern that many requests to end life come directly or indirectly from the patients’ families and not the older person themselves: ‘Often such requests are then forgotten if such degrading symptoms as urinary and faecal incontinence, depression and unremitting pain are relieved.’ 

They argue that the clear priority is ensuring that the best possible care is available.

They observe that much of the public demand for assisted dying seems to stem from ‘the fear of a prolonged death with increasing disability sometimes associated with unwanted burdensome medical care’.  

But they argue that this suffering at the end of life can be prevented ‘by a change in the focus of care – from prolonging life to addressing the individuals own priorities and symptoms, and by the involvement of medical professionals skilled in palliative and end of life care’.  

They call upon law makers to ‘consider not only the rights of individuals in society but also society itself and the impact the legislation will have on all members of our communities’: ‘The BGS is concerned with protecting the interests of vulnerable older and disabled people who already feel pressure to give up their lives to reduce the burden they feel they cause to others.’

They then warn that ‘crossing the boundary between acknowledging that death is inevitable and taking active steps to assist the patient to die changes fundamentally the role of the physician, changes the doctor-patient relationship and changes the role of medicine in society.’

Legalising assisted dying, they conclude, ‘will lead to a change in attitude to death in society and also within the medical profession. The prohibition on intentional killing is the cornerstone of society and it is worth preserving the notion that all lives are precious.’

The statement comes in the lead up to the debate on Robert Marris’s Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Commons on 11 September. Marris wants to make it legal for mentally competent adults with less than six months to live to be prescribed lethal drugs on the say so of two doctors and a High Court judge.

He would do well to heed these voices of experience. 

Christians must speak out about the Marris Bill on assisted suicide

Labour MP Rob Marris wants to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales. His Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill would allow mentally competent adults (>18) judged to have less than six months to live to receive help to kill themselves once given approval by two doctors and a High Court judge.

Marris’s Bill is essentially the same as Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill which ran out of parliamentary time in the House of Lords just prior to the general election (see full critique of Falconer here and recent CMF File on assisted suicide here).

A second reading debate on the general principle of the bill will be held in the House of Commons on Friday 11 September. If MPs vote it through then it may be very hard to stop it becoming law in some shape or form. So it is essential that MPs turn up en masse and vote it out.

Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide would place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. It would also encourage those with an emotional or financial interest in another person’s death to apply subtle means of coercion. This would especially affect people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.

Experience in other jurisdictions, such as Belgium, the Netherlands and the American states of Oregon and Washington, shows clearly that any change in the law to allow assisted suicide, or any other form of euthanasia, leads to ‘incremental extension’ and ‘mission creep’ - a steady annual increase in numbers and a broadening of categories of those to be included (from mentally competent to incompetent, from terminal to chronic illness, from adults to children, from assisted suicide to euthanasia). This process will be almost impossible to police.

This bill also gives huge power to doctors without proper accountability and its so-called safeguards are paper thin. Furthermore, as we have seen already with the Abortion Act, a small number of doctors will push its boundaries and will be very difficult to regulate.

The Bible tells us that human beings are unique amongst God’s creatures in being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). It is on this basis, after the flood, that God introduces the prohibition against killing legally innocent people (Genesis 9:6,7) that is later formalised in the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17).

Other passages in the Old Testament (eg. Exodus 21:12-14; Leviticus 24:17-21; Numbers 35:16-31; Deuteronomy 19:4-13) define ‘murder’ unambiguously as the ‘intentional killing of an innocent human being’ (Exodus 23:7; 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 106:37,38; Jeremiah 19:4).

Euthanasia and assisted suicide clearly fall within this biblical definition. The Bible makes no provision for compassionate killing, even at the person’s request and there is no recognition of a ‘right to die’ as all human life belongs to God (Psalms 24:1). Our lives are not actually our own. Suicide (and therefore assisted suicide) is therefore equally morally wrong.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that that we should go beyond the mere letter of the sixth commandment to fulfil the very spirit of love on which it is based (Matthew 5:21,22). We are called to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, to be imitators of God, to love as he himself loved (1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:1,2; John 13:34, 35), to walk in the way of the cross.

God calls us to give our whole selves to the love and service of others by expending our time, money and energy in finding compassionate solutions and offering hope to those who suffer  (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 8:34; Philippians 2:4-11; Galatians 6:2, 10). This has found practical shape historically in the hospice movement and in good palliative care - pioneered in large part by Christian doctors and nurses.

Persistent requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia are extremely rare if people are properly cared for so our priority must surely be to ensure that good care addressing people’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs is accessible to all.

The present law in England and Wales which makes assisted suicide illegal is clear and right. The penalties it holds in reserve act as a strong deterrent to exploitation and abuse whilst giving discretion to prosecutors and judges in hard cases. It does not need changing.

This is why I am asking Christians to take up their pens and write to their MPs encouraging him/her to oppose the bill and vote against it.

Visit www.carenotkilling.org.uk/Bill2015 to access guidance on engaging with your MP (noting especially the three key ways of doing so) and do please share this initiative with others.

As a result of the voices of concerned citizens, including many Christians, we saw Patrick Harvie's assisted suicide bill defeated earlier this year in the Scottish Parliament by 82 votes to 36.

Let’s pray and work together to seeing off the Marris Bill. It will be an even tougher challenge but we need at such a time as this to speak out on behalf of vulnerable people who are being put at huge risk.

‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ (Proverbs 31:8)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The All Blacks are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team

Most have heard of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team.

They have won over 76% of their Test matches and are the leading Test match points scorers of all time. 

The All Blacks are the only international side with a winning record against every country they have played, and since their international debut in 1903 only five nations have defeated them in Test matches.

Since the introduction of the World Rugby Rankings in October 2003, New Zealand has held number one ranking longer than all other teams combined, and they are the first team to win 400 Test matches.

But the All Blacks are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team. And they have won the rugby world cup only twice in seven attempts, with a tendency to choke in crucial games.

The All Blacks Sevens are marginally better.

The Sevens have won twelve of the sixteen IRB Sevens World Series events.

Since 2000 when the series first started, the only times they have not won the series were in 2006 when Fiji were crowned champions, 2009 won by South Africa, 2010 when they came second to Samoa and 2015 when Fiji won the series.

But overall the team has won 47 tournaments out of 122 held. They have also won four Commonwealth gold medals in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010.

But they are not New Zealand’s most dominant sports team either.

That accolade, at least in recent years, goes to two rowers, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (pictured above).

New Zealand have a long history of excellence in rowing and won the world championships in 2014.

Today they have won the World Rowing Cup III regatta at Lucerne with six golds and eleven medals overall. Britain came second, just ahead of Germany, with just three golds and eight medals overall.

Murray and Bond won gold in the men’s coxless pair in 6m 24s, a winning margin of only 3 seconds but a staggering 16 seconds outside their world record in the event of 6m 8s. In other words, they were just coasting.

The duo have been unbeaten since 2009 – winning gold in five consecutive world championships since 2009 along with the Olympic gold medal in 2012.

By September 2014 they had won 19 consecutive championships, an unbeaten streak stretching over six years and around 50 races.

Murray and Bond were judged the best male rowing crew in the world in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and are currently ranked 1 and 2 amongst the world's top ten male rowers on the World Rowing website.

Whether they can win their sixth consecutive world championship in 2015 and Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 remains to be seen but their reputation as New Zealand’s most dominant sports team is richly deserved.  

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Former Voluntary Euthanasia Society reveals contents of Rob Marris’s assisted suicide bill

A Labour back bench MP is bringing a new 'assisted dying' bill before the House of Commons.

Wolverhampton South West’s Rob Marris (pictured) drew first place in the private members’ ballot last month and says he will pursue a bill broadly in line with Lord Falconer's proposals.

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, which made provision for mentally competent adults with six months or less to live to be prescribed lethal drugs, ran out of parliamentary time before the election on 5 May.

Falconer subsequently sought to introduce it in the new parliament but drew only 21st place in the Lords ballot, leading to the bill’s supporters to approach Marris.

The move comes after MSPs voted 82-36 against Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament on 27 May.

Marris’s Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill received its first reading in the House of Commons this week, and debate on the principle of the Bill (second reading) takes place on 11 September.

It is usual to publish a parliamentary bill on or soon after the first reading but Marris has curiously chosen not to do this.

Some have speculated that this is a tactic aimed at keeping those opposed to the bill guessing as to its contents in order to give less time to mount specific criticisms ahead of the second reading debate.

The long title of the Bill reads as follows: ‘A Bill to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life; and for connected purposes.’

So the crucial elements are the same as Falconer’s Bill: mental competency, terminal illness, medical supervision and self-administration.

But there is little detail on the proposed mechanism.

However, Dignity in Dying (DID - formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) have published on their website this weekend, a specimen letter for supporters to send to their MPs which gives much more detail as to the bill’s provisions.

They describe it as follows:

‘Under this Bill, if a terminally ill patient wishes to end their life two doctors and a High Court judge must be satisfied that all the safeguards have been met. Both doctors must separately and independently examine the patient and their medical records, confirming that they are terminally ill, have mental capacity, are informed about their end-of-life care options and that they have the ability to make a voluntary and informed decision without pressure. All of this is then verified and checked by the judge.’

In other words Marris’s bill is almost identical to Falconer’s new bill. And as DID have actually drafted Marris’s bill and are pulling all the strings (Marris is merely the marionette), we can be fairly confident that this is an accurate description.

DID also reveal in the letter what they believe to be their four strongest arguments in support of the bill, essentially as follows:

1. Most people want assisted suicide for the terminally ill to be legalised (the democratic argument)

2. If we don’t legalise it in the UK people will go abroad to Dignitas, try to kill themselves here in an amateurish way, or turn to backstreet euthanasiasts.

3. The current law is not working  

4. It’s better to help people who want to kill themselves to do so with ‘upfront safeguards’ here

I’ll come back to these arguments in a later post. 

I believe they are all relatively easily refuted.



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Mumsnet needs to explain why it is promoting a 'charity' which supplies illegal abortion drugs

This story has now been run by the Daily Telegraph 

Mumsnet is one of the UK's largest websites for parents, offering brands the chance to influence women via high-profile sponsored discussions and other forms of interaction.

Mumsnet is currently raising money for charity. In its second annual Giving Week in partnership with JustGiving, it is ‘shining a light on five brilliant causes close to Mumsnetters' hearts’.

It promises to ‘matchfund’ any donations up to a total of £25,000.

One of these five charities is the Abortion Support Network(ASN) which the Mumsnet website describes as a ‘tiny charity helping women in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man access safe abortions’.

Mumsnet goes on to say that ASN aims to provide ‘practical information on arranging the least expensive abortion and travel, give grants to cover the £400-£2000 it costs to travel to England and pay for a termination, and provide accommodation in volunteer homes’.

What they don’t say on their website– but which is revealed on their justgiving page – is that ASN also provides information about how to order illegal but safe early abortion pills by post’ (see justgiving page  below - click to enlarge - and enlargement above).

Well at least it said that this morning when I looked (when there were 63 donations on the site).

By this evening (85 donations recorded) the words in question had been removed (see below - click to enlarge).

I then looked to see if they were on the ASN site (they weren’t) .

Now this raises some interesting questions. The original Mumsnet quote has all the appearances of being supplied by ASN. But clearly something happened today to make them decide to take it down. I wonder what that was.

Contrary to popular opinion abortion is still a criminal offence in Britain. All the Abortion Act 1967 did was to make abortion ‘lawful’ under certain limited circumstances. Two doctors must certify in good faith on a statutory form that one of these circumstances applies in a given case.

Any abortion which falls outside these parameters – such as the supply of abortion pills on the internet without two doctors’ signatures or an abortion not performed in licensed premises – is a criminal offence carrying a custodial sentence.

Under Section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act (the language is archaic but the meaning clear) it is illegal for a someone to abort themselves or another person. Furthermore it carries a life sentence :

Every woman, being with child, who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, and whosoever, with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall unlawfully administer to her or cause to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing, or shall unlawfully use any instrument or other means whatsoever with the like intent, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life

Section 59 applies to suppliers of abortion drugs or instruments:

Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude

So women who procure illegal abortions, and suppliers who provide them with the means to do so, are both committing a criminal act punishable by imprisonment.

Now unlike the Abortion Act which does not apply in Northern Ireland, the Offences Against the Person Act applies in all parts of the United Kingdom.

So Mumsnet has been raising money for, and promoting, a ‘charity’ which it clearly believes supplies information about how to obtain illegal abortions.

Mumsnet is clearly aware of this as it has put the information on its own justgiving page. 

Now let me spell this out a bit more clearly.

Abortions carried out outside the bounds of the Abortion Act are criminal acts according to the Offences against the Person Act (section 58 and 59) and for both the woman and the supplier carry a custodial sentence.

If ASN is indeed giving advice about supplying illegal abortion drugs by post, as the Mumsnet just giving page reports, then the police must uphold the law by fully investigating and reporting their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Charity Commission should also carry out a full enquiry into ASN’s activity including to what degree its sponsoring organisations BPAS, Marie Stopes and the Pregnancy Advisory Service (the first two are also UK charities) are involved. Did they know about this and are they collaborating? (BPAS and Marie Stopes are both listed as creditors in ASN's 2013 accounts so a business relationship exists)

By actively promoting and supporting this activity Mumsnet itself is also potentially colluding in criminal activity. This is a serious matter for the police, the charity commission and the crown prosecution service.

Some questions the police and Charity Commission need to ask Mumsnet and ASN are as follows:

1. Does ASN (a registered charity) supply information on how to order illegal but safe early abortion pills by post?

2. If so were its sponsoring organisations BPAS, Marie Stopes and the Pregnancy Advisory Service aware of this and involved? If so how?

3. If not why did Mumsnet place this information about ASN on their justgiving page? Was Mumsnet misrepresenting ASN or just being careless in revealing facts which ASN (and possibly also BPAS and Marie Stopes) wished to keep secret?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Scottish Assisted Suicide Bill gets short shrift from MSPs

Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill has been defeated today in a free vote by 82 votes to 36 in the Scottish Parliament.

The MSP (pictured left) took over the bill following the death of Margo Macdonald MSP in April 2014.

It was proposing an ‘Oregon type system’ with trained ‘licensed facilitators’ but with a wide scope for mentally competent adults (>16) with a ‘terminal or life-shortening illness’ or a ‘progressive and terminal or life-shortening condition’ who have concluded that the ‘quality of their life is unacceptable’.

The bill has been heavily criticized for its relativistic definitions, poor reporting provisions, minimal penalties, a ‘saving’ clause protecting doctors acting in ‘good faith’, no specification of ‘means’ of suicide and the absence of a conscience clause.

Oral evidence sessions took place earlier this year and Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had already signalled that she would not support the bill.

In addition over 15,000 Scottish people have signed a petition against it.  

The Health and Sport Committee which scrutinised the bill had already delivered a damning view of its shortcomings but left it up to MSPs to decide. They did, giving it short shrift today.

Care Not Killing (CNK), which fought a strong campaign against the Bill, brought together more than 40 professional groups, faith groups and human rights groups along with medical professionals, palliative care specialists and legal experts, all convinced it would be dangerous and unnecessary to decriminalise the existing law on homicide.

After the vote, Dr Gordon Macdonald (pictured right), convenor of CNK Scotland said:

‘MSPs have issued a ringing endorsement of our views with this comprehensive vote, taking a bold and critical step which marks a major victory for the vulnerable in our society who are most in need of protection. The present law making assisted suicide illegal is clear and right and does not need changing.’

‘In every free democratic society there are limits placed on human freedom in order to protect the common good and vulnerable people.  It is right that the law is not to be changed to accommodate the wishes of a small number of desperate and determined people at the expense of the rights of others.’

The controversial legislation would have made Scotland the first part of the UK to legalise assisted suicide if it had been successful.

But Dr Macdonald said the vote demonstrated the widespread support throughout the country for palliative care. He said: ‘Vulnerable people who are sick, elderly or disabled can so easily feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. Parliament’s first responsibility is to protect the vulnerable and that is what has happened.’

And he added: ‘Experience in other jurisdictions, such as Belgium, the Netherlands and the American states of Oregon and Washington, shows that any change in the law leads to ‘incremental extension’ and ‘mission creep’ as some doctors actively extend the categories of those to be included (from mentally competent to incompetent, from terminal to chronic illness, from adults to children, from assisted suicide to euthanasia).’

Legalising assisted suicide is fraught with danger. This is a hugely welcome result and a vote for sanity, justice and common sense.