Lord Falconer wrote a letter to The Times in response to an opinion piece published on the 20th of January that conflated assisted dying (for terminally ill mentally competent adults) with assisted suicide.
Lord Falconer’s letter in full :
“The Benelux euthanasia laws are often incorrectly cited as an example of a slippery slope in action”
“Sir, Peter Franklin’s argument against a change in the law on assisted dying conflates assisted dying (the right to a prescription which the terminally ill, competent person can take to end their life) with voluntary euthanasia (both terminally ill and non-terminal but incurably ill patients’ lives can be directly ended by doctors). The Benelux euthanasia laws are often incorrectly cited as an example of a slippery slope in action. However, both the Belgians and Dutch deliberately and from the beginning created laws with the specific intention of allowing non-terminally ill people to be directly helped to die. This doesn’t confirm the slippery slope, but rather confirms that the law you enact is the law you get. The assisted dying law I propose is similar to the laws working effectively in the US states of Oregon and Washington, where eligibility has never been extended beyond terminal illness, nor has there been pressure for such a change.
“…Opponents rarely argue against the change in the law actually proposed”
It is a feature of this debate that opponents rarely argue against the change in the law actually proposed (for terminally ill, mentally competent adults), but for a law which isn’t proposed. The answer to such concerns is not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of some dying people, but rather to achieve a consensus on a safeguarded law. Those opposed to a change in the law have every right to raise their concerns. But in doing so they also have a responsibility to either explain why some dying people should have to suffer against their wishes at the end of life or alternatively they should set out their own safeguarded law.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton
House of Lords “