Petition Legalise assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults

The Government should bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity. It should be permitted subject to strict upfront safeguards, assessed by two doctors independently, and self-administered by the dying person.

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Dying people in the UK should not have to suffer unbearably against their wishes in their final days and weeks of life. Without assisted dying, some people will die without adequate pain relief, symptom control or dignity. People should not be forced to take drastic measures or travel to another country to end their own life; they should have the option of dying at home, on their own terms, just as dying people do in New Zealand and parts of Australia and the USA, as well as several countries in Europe.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 February 2022

The Government’s position is that any change to the law in this area is a matter for Parliament and an issue of conscience for individual parliamentarians rather than one for Government policy.

The Government’s position remains that any change to the law in this emotive and contentious area is a matter for Parliament to decide and an issue of conscience for individual parliamentarians rather than one for Government policy. That is not an indication that the Government does not care about this issue. Rather, because the matter is so important, and is a matter of conscience, it takes no partisan position.

Whether there are any circumstances in which it should not be an offence to assist another person to die is something on which there are passionately held but deeply divided views. Even amongst those who support a change in the law, there are differing ideas on where the line should be drawn, what safeguards should be in place and for whom. Conversely, others feel strongly that the law should not be changed and that safeguards will not necessarily give enough protection to vulnerable people who may feel pressure, whether real or perceived, to end their own lives.

Parliament has so far voted against proposals to allow lawful assistance with suicide, including in September 2015 when the House of Commons rejected the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill by a substantial majority (330 votes to 118). However, this remains an issue of profound public interest and importance and the Assisted Dying Bill introduced by Baroness Meacher has provided an opportunity for Parliament to consider it afresh.

The Government took a neutral position when the Assisted Dying Bill was debated in the House of Lords on 22 October. The Bill passed Lords Second Reading without a vote. Committee stage – which involves line by line examination of the Bill - has yet to be scheduled.

If the will of Parliament is that the law on assisting suicide should change, the Government would not stand in the way of such change, but would seek to ensure that the law could be enforced in the way that Parliament intended.

Ministry of Justice

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