Some months ago Dr Ann Turner, a person suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, travelled to Switzerland with her two adult children and a camera crew. There, under controlled conditions she took an overdose of barbiturates and took her own life. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society used this event and, what the Times called a “grisly travelling theatre of death, to promote Lord Joffes Bill to allow assisted suicide in Britain.
I cannot think of more traumatic circumstances than the prolonged death of a loved one. I also know that many will disagree with me when I state my reasons for opposing this Bill.
Lord Joffes Assisted Dying Bill is a world apart from the debate about withdrawing treatment to someone in the last stages of life. It is about assisted killing. This means taking proactive steps to end a life. It is for this reason that the Bill is opposed by every disability rights group in the UK.
The principle that some individuals lives are worth less than others because they are sick, frail or needy is one that should never be espoused. I also fear that, if assisted dying is legalised, older people may feel pressurised into ending their lives if they feel they have become a burden on their families. We should never place anyone in this position.
Though I do not believe that the present law is perfect, it does at least draw a clear distinction between the removal of treatment and allowing nature to take its course on the one hand, and the active commission of death on the other. The Bill removes the clear line and in its place introduces uncertainties.
For these reasons, and because I dont want people coming to Britain to die in the way Dr Turner went to Switzerland, I will be opposing the Bill.