November 8, 2014

Britain moves towards assisted dying

Guardian - A change in the law that will allow terminally ill people to be helped to end their lives is inevitable and will happen within as little as a couple of years, according to the deputy chair of the British Medical Association.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Dr Kailash Chand has thrown his weight behind Lord Falconer’s private member’s bill, which would offer assisted dying to terminally ill patients who are deemed mentally capable and are likely to have less than six months to live.

On Friday, the House of Lords voted unanimously to accept an amendment to the assisted dying bill, tabled by Lord Pannick and supported by Falconer, that would see all applications for assisted death subject to judicial oversight.

The move was welcomed by campaigners as a major step in changing the law. Chand said it was clear that momentum was now swinging behind those pushing for reform. Advertisement

“No change is not an option,” he told the Observer. “The present law definitely needs changing. It discriminates and is very bad law. We currently have a two-tier system – one for the people who have the resources and money to go to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland and another for the majority of people who don’t have the resources or money.”

Some peers worry that disabled and vulnerable people will be pressured into ending their lives if the law is changed Several religious groups are opposed to the measure. The BMA, which represents Britain’s doctors, also fiercely rejects moves to legalise assisted dying.

However, Chand implied that the organization was out of step with the public. “Look at the surveys. Between 60% and 70% of the public are in favor of a change in the law. Three-quarters of nurses are in favor. Only the doctors’ community is not substantially in favor. But if you ask a doctor a personal question whether, if they were in that sort of situation, would they want it, their answer would be yes.”

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