In March, Richard Ottaway MP secured a Backbench Business Committee debate on the Director of Public Prosecutions’ policy on assistance to die. This debate saw MPs unanimously accept the principle that amateurs who compassionately assist a loved one to die should not face automatic prosecution.
In July, Dignity in Dying held a mass lobby of Parliament – which filled the QE2 conference centre and saw members march into Parliament to lobby their MPs directly. Also in July, and building on the Commission on Assisted Dying’s recommendations for a safeguarded law, Dignity in Dying partnered with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life to publish a draft Bill. The consultation on the draft Bill closed on 20 November, with responses received from the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the Royal College of Nurses and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, among many others.
As our members rallied our campaign strengthened. In September, new Health Ministers Anna Soubry MP and Norman Lamb MP spoke out and said there was a need to debate a change in the law to allow terminally ill people the choice of an assisted death at home, in the UK. Media interest in the issue has remained high: in September the issue was discussed on the Today programme to mark ten years since the first British deaths at Dignitas and new figures revealing that the number of British assisted deaths there have exceeded 200.
We are no less ambitious for 2013. Following the Queen’s Speech this year, Lord Falconer will table a Private Members’ Bill based on the findings of the Bill consultation.
Our successes in 2012, and the successes we know 2013 will bring, are in no small part down to our valued members and supporters: those who gave evidence to the Commission on Assisted Dying and responded to the draft Assisted Dying Bill consultation; those who lobbied their MPs to attend and vote in Richard Ottaway’s debate on the DPP’s guidance; those who lobbied their MPs on 4th July; those who spoke out on the issue because of a loved one’s experience at the end of life; high profile supporters who became Patrons; and volunteers who gave their time to support the campaign. We are where we are because of the incredible volume and quality of support we receive every day on the campaign.
So thank you and we wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year. We look forward to working together with you next year – 2013 – in what will be undoubtedly be the most significant year of the campaign to date.