Assisted suicide law in England “clarified”


Multiple Sclerosis sufferer and campaigner, Debbie Purdy has welcomed the publication of new guidance on the law relating to assisted suicide in England and Wales.

It was after Purdy went to court to clarify whether her husband would be prosecuted should he help her end her life due to her illness, that the UK’s Law Lords ordered the clarification.

Debbie Purdy,Pro Assisted-Suicide campaigner gave her reaction. “It has tried to be clear about the difference between malicious encouragement and compassionate support for people who have come to an end of their lives, and who have decided that life is intolerable.”

The director of public prosecutions has not changed the law – assisting suicide is still illegal- but the DPP has spelled out a range of factors that will be considered when deciding on cases..

For example if the terminally ill or severely disabled individual has a clear wish to die and a family member or close friend is motivated by compassion.

Dr.Peter Saunders of “Care not killing”, expressed his misgivings: “We’re concerned about the very wide breadth of physical conditions to be included, which could arguably include things like dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, anyone in a wheelchair. And also about the implicit assumption that loved ones will be acting in the best interests of the person who’s having assisted suicide.”

An estimated 117 Britons have travelled abroad to die, principally to Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal. Those who have accompanied them have run the risk of prosecution when they returned home.

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