British Lords Signal Compromise In Assisted Suicide
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 19, 2005
LONDON, ENGLAND--British lawmakers debated a measure last week that would allow people with terminal medical conditions to seek a doctor's help in ending their lives, the Guardian and BBC News reported.
Currently, helping a person to commit suicide is illegal in the United Kingdom. But earlier this year, the British Medical Association took a neutral stance to assisted suicide, dropping its long-held opposition to the practice and paving the way for open debate on the issue.
An initial draft of the bill in the House of Lords would have allowed voluntary euthanasia, or "mercy killing", in the form of a doctor injecting a lethal drug into a terminally ill patient to cause death.
But the measure faced fierce opposition by members of both the Catholic and Anglican churches and other groups.
As of Monday, it appeared that a compromise was being worked out that would instead allow a doctor to prescribe a drug that the patient would take later without the doctor being present.
Lord Joffe said he would propose the new draft "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill" that would look more like the "Death with Dignity" law passed more than 10 years ago by voters in the state of Oregon. Joffe said he felt he had enough support for such a compromise measure to pass.
During the debate, Lord Carter warned that many senior citizens worried that a change in the law would change attitudes toward them.
He added: "There's an unspoken fear among the parents of disabled children -- whatever the age of the children may be -- what if we die first? Who will take the life and death decisions if we aren't there?"
Many disability groups have come out against legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide, saying the practice makes people with the most severe disabilities more vulnerable to being killed, or being pressured to kill themselves.
"Lords debate right-to-die plans" (BBC)
"Peer signals compromise on assisted suicide" (The Guardian)