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Assisted dying set for Commons debate after petition smashes 100k signature target

An official government petition calling for a change in the law on assisted dying has today smashed its target of 100,000 signatures in order to be considered for a debate in the House of Commons.

The petition features in the top ten of the more than 1,300 live petitions on the Parliament website and has garnered support from high profile figures including Sir Ian McKellen and Dignity in Dying patron Sir Patrick Stewart.

This comes after Baroness Meacher’s Assisted Dying Bill fell at the prorogation of Parliament on 28th April, despite the Bill passing its Second Reading unopposed in the House of Lords in October and commanding huge public and parliamentary support. The Bill called for the legalisation of assisted dying as an option for terminally ill adults with a prognosis or six months or less to live, subject to strict safeguards. Such a change will now be considered for debate in the House of Commons by the Petitions Committee after a petition tabled by Dignity in Dying attracted 100,384 signatures at time of writing.

In New South Wales, the only remaining Australian state to pass assisted dying legislation, a final vote on a bill is expected in the coming days or weeks. Similar laws are in place across New Zealand and in 11 jurisdictions in the US. Over 200 million people around the world have access to some form of assisted dying law.

Meanwhile in the UK, recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has indicated that terminally ill people are more than twice as likely to take their own lives than the general population. The data comes after several suicides and suicide pacts involving terminally ill Brits have come to light, with Dignity in Dying research estimating that up to 650 terminally ill people are taking their own lives every year in the UK in lieu of the safe, legal choice of assisted dying. This is in addition to the pre-pandemic average of 50 Brits a year who travel to Switzerland for an assisted death (costing at least £10,000) and 6,400 a year who suffer in pain as they die in the UK despite access to the best possible palliative care.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:

“We are delighted but not surprised that Dignity in Dying’s petition has smashed the 100,000 signature target needed to be considered for a debate in Parliament. It is yet further confirmation of the strength of feeling among the British people on assisted dying; the vast majority – 84% – from all walks of life, religions, ages and political persuasions, want to see a change in the law. It is only right that, in the face of this public outcry, the mounting evidence of the dangers of the status quo and the unstoppable march of progress overseas, MPs are given an opportunity to examine whether the blanket ban on assisted dying is truly working.

“The motivations of a vocal minority of anti-choice campaigners who attempt to block discussion must also be scrutinised, including Danny Kruger MP who has today attempted to criticise Dignity in Dying’s completely transparent efforts to raise funds for the promotion of our petition. To imply that signatures can be ‘bought’ is patronising in the extreme, as is the inference that the public doesn’t understand basic fundraising principles. This highlights once again just how out of step opponents of end-of-life choice are with the constituents they are meant to serve – they are denying the British people a say on this fundamental issue and defending a law that not only lacks compassion but is deeply dangerous. This is not simply a matter of debate but of patient safety of the utmost urgency.”

Dignity in Dying campaigns for a change in the law to allow assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, subject to strict safeguards and alongside access to high quality palliative care.

In Scotland, a public consultation on an Assisted Dying Bill Proposal recently received an unprecedented response, with a report due in the coming months and a vote in the Scottish Parliament expected next year. Jersey’s Parliament voted in principle for the legalisation of assisted dying in November following recommendations from a citizen’s jury on the topic, with draft legislation expected later this year. In the Isle of Man, a Private Member’s Bill on assisted dying is expected to be introduced in the coming months.


For further information, photos, interviews with parliamentarians, Dignity and Dying spokespeople and case studies please contact Molly Pike, Media and Campaigns Officer at Dignity in Dying, on 07929 731181 or email: