Dignity in Dying is delighted that Richard Ottaway MP has secured a Commons Backbench debate on the issue of assisted dying, likely to take place in March. This debate will offer the first chance in over a decade for MPs to debate the issue of assistance to die on the floor of the House, as well as a critical opportunity for Parliament to comment on the current legal situation, where assisting suicide is a crime, but compassionate amateur assistance to die has been effectively decriminalised.
The debate is not on the Commission on Assisted Dying’s findings, or on a future assisted dying law, but on whether MPs agree with the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) guidance on Assisted Suicide which has been in effect since February 2010 – guidance which effectively decriminalises amateur assistance to die.
In providing greater clarity in the application of the law the DPP’s guidelines are a welcome development, a view we are confident a majority of MPs will share. However, Dignity in Dying does not believe that the DPP’s guidance offers adequate protection to be a long-term answer to unwanted, unnecessary and unbearable suffering at the end of life, and what is ultimately required is a safeguarded assisted dying law for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, but in the meantime Parliament should not be allowed to avoid this important issue.
We will be supporting Richard Ottaway MP in ensuring Parliament faces up to the reality of current law and practice on assisted suicide, and its consequences. If you would like to be kept informed about the progress of this debate and our other campaigns please sign up to our email alerts.
This debate will continue what has already been an exciting year for the campaign, and is just one of many activities planned to help ensure that we can all have what we consider to be a good death when the time comes.