I have been deluged with correspondence about the Assisted Dying Bill. This is a private member’s bill which is due to have its second reading early in September. The bill would make it lawful for medical professionals and others to assist someone in committing suicide. The correspondents in favour of the bill were well ahead earlier in the summer but, after a late surge, the antis have caught up. Currently it’s neck and neck.
Many correspondents tell me it is my duty as their representative to vote in accordance with their wishes. I respond by telling them that my duty is to represent all my constituents, the vast majority of whom have expressed no opinion whatsoever.
Suicide, and attempted suicide were once criminal offences. The church would even refuse Christian burial to suicides. Nowadays we have rather more understanding and greater compassion. You can now lawfully take your own life. Were anyone to assist you however, they would commit a criminal offence, and it is this that the bill seeks to change.
The key change however, is to make suicide easier by allowing medical professionals to provide the required service at the time of the patient’s choosing.
I have every sympathy for those with terminal medical conditions with gruesome prognoses who, having decided to avoid a grizzly end by terminating their own lives, face the dilemma of going early or delaying too long and losing the physical ability to actually do the deed.
For me however, allowing assisted suicide is a step too far. I have no doubt that what starts as a possibility would all too soon become an expectation. I can imagine elderly and infirm being encouraged ever so subtly to ‘do the decent thing’.
I shall be voting against the bill.