Assisted Dying – who decides?

Evening all!

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for months now, and here I find myself on a Friday night, at home, on-call from work, sat blogging about assisted dying. I almost don’t know where to start, and I think that is what has put me off writing about this before. I’ve tweeted about it a number of times over the last year or so, but never really put down my thoughts on the matter. The 2 key events that have taken place concerning assisted dying have been the rejection of proposed legislation in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments.

Patrick Harvie, leader of the Green Party in Scotland, took up the challenge of championing the legislation on behalf of the late Margo MacDonald in the Scottish Parliament. He pretty much summed-up how I feel, when he said:

Whatever view members take of the detailed operation of this legislation were we to pass it, I hope that all members who understand the basic principle, who accept the idea that human beings have the right to make a decision in circumstances such as a terminal or life-shortening illness, I hope that members will give this bill the opportunity to come forward to the next stage, and then we can begin to debate the amendments that come forward.”

What is the point of Parliament, if not to debate such fundamental matters of importance as those of life and death – literally, in this instance. What frustrates me the most is the fact that both in Scotland and in the rest of the United Kingdom, legislation has been brought forward and then not given the support or time necessary to have proper discussion and to further the debate. If this happens each time such legislation is proposed, then what is the point? I sincerely hope that with the re-introduction of Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill in the current session of the Westminster Parliament, that it progresses further than it managed to last time. For those who oppose it, what have you to fear by letting it progress through the committee stages of the House of Lords and into the House of Commons? This will give everybody the chance to analyse the proposed legislation in more detail and to suggest amendments, which can then in turn be debated. It would appear that the British public is moving towards an acceptance of the principle of assisted dying. If this is the case, then the Parliaments that represent them have a duty to debate, discuss, inform and educate on the matter.

Happily Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill has been re-introduced into the UK Parliament and had its first reading in the House of Lords on June 4th 2015:

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/assisteddying.html

There is so much information online and in print about assisted dying. For those of you already interested in the topic then i’m sure you know where to look. However, for those of you that may be new to the debate then the link above is a good place to start. It contains a copy of the proposed legislation, and will take you through its progress.

If you hadn’t already figured it out, then I shall now nail my colours to the mast. I support the basic principle of assisted dying and a persons’ right to choose when they no longer wish to live, even if this involves the assistance of another party. This Bill should be allowed to progress through Parliament and receive the proper scrutiny it requires and deserves – on a matter of such importance.

I will come back to this topic in the future, but I just wanted to put it out there and declare my interest. Please feel free to get in touch, share your views and add to the debate.

Ben

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