Terminally ill Britons, who want control and choice over the dying process, continue to be forced to take matters into their own hands either at home in the UK or by travelling abroad to die. A better way forward is possible.
2013 is the year we begin to make a change in the law on assisted dying possible, both to provide greater choice at the end of life and, by providing up-front safeguards, greater public safety.
Below I’ve tried to provide you with an overview of our plan for the coming year, with information on how you can make a real difference.
Plan of Action
The courts have set out on a number of occasions that it is for Parliament to decide whether the law should be changed on assisted dying. This means that a Private Members’ Bill must go through all the necessary stages in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Following the next Queen’s Speech to Parliament, most likely to take place in May, Lord Falconer QC will table an Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords. After the first reading, a date will be set for a Second Reading debate when the principles and overall content of the Bill will be discussed by Peers.
Whilst it is difficult to get a Private Members’ Bill enacted (only a small minority are), it is not impossible. Some landmark Private Members’ Bills, such as the Abolition of the Death Penalty, have become law in a similar way.
Our aim is to add an Assisted Dying Act to this list.
How you can help
With a vote being likely at the Second Reading, the Bill can only progress if sufficient numbers of Peers attend on the day and back the Bill. You can play a crucial role in achieving success at this stage. In the coming months we will be asking you to contact Peers, by email and by letter, to tell them you support change.
Please be braced to help and provide as much of your time as you can spare – your help can make a significant difference.
In the meantime, if you happen to know any Peers, professionally or personally, please contact Tom Davies, Dignity in Dying’s Parliamentary Support Officer, for advice on how you can help now . Don’t worry if you don’t – there will be plenty of other opportunities to help as we move forward!
I will keep you posted on significant developments as and when they happen