British House of Commons to debate assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

The British House of Lords has debated many assisted suicide bills over the past few years. In fact the House of Lords debated the Falconer assisted suicide bill in the past year, a bill that died on the order paper before the election. The House of Commons has not debated an assisted suicide bill in 20 years.

Yesterday backbencher British Labour MP, Rob Marris, was chosen first in the Private Members bill ballot giving Marris the right to introduce Falconer's assisted suicide bill in the House of Commons.

According to the BBC, the Marris assisted suicide bill is scheduled for its first hour of debate on September 11. 

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has a majority government, opposes assisted suicide. The Express and Star reported that Cameron told his weekly Prime Minister's Question Time that: 

“I don’t support the assisted dying proposals. I don’t support euthanasia.” 
...problems with the existing law can be ‘dealt with sensitively’ without ‘bringing in euthanasia’.

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide – In the face of two major threats the price of freedom is eternal vigilance

By Peter Saunders

Peter Saunders

Peter Saunders

Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill sought to legalise assisted suicide (but not euthanasia) for mentally competent adults (aged over 18) with less than six months to live, subject to 'safeguards' under a two doctors' signature model similar to the Abortion Act 1967.

The Bill had an unopposed second reading in the House of Lords on 18 July 2014 and Committee stage debates took place on 7 November and 16 January 2015. Over 175 amendments were tabled and three votes held. Lord Pannick’s amendment (to delegate the final decision in any specific case to the courts) was ‘accepted’ and attempts to change the bill’s wording throughout from ‘assisted dying’ to ‘assisted suicide’ and to require two doctors to carry out examinations  were defeated by 179-106 and 119-61 respectively. 

The bill has now fallen with the approach of the general election on 7 May and will not enter the House of Commons in this parliament. However it is expected to be reintroduced, possibly in the Commons, later this year. Its progress then will depend very much on the post-election composition of parliament.

Link to the full article

British leader with disabilities speaks out against assisted suicide - "I am convinced that a change in the law would put our lives at risk."

Baroness Jane Campbell

Baroness Jane Campbell

These are the two speeches by Baroness Jane Campbell in the British House of Lords on January 16, 2015 opposing the assisted suicide bill.

Baroness Campbell was Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) from 2006–2008, Chair of the Disability Committee which lead on the EHRC Disability Programme, former Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and Commissioner of the Disability Rights Commission until October 2006.

Cambell has been featured in several excellent articles on assisted suicide including: ● Assisted Suicide could lure me to the grave, ● Why I oppose assisted suicide and ● Assisted suicide bill in Britain in fatally flawed.

Baroness Campbell's first speech in the House of Lords - January 16, 2015. 
My Lords, I thank the Minister. I am sorry I have not got a loud voice. I may be a little slow. This is not because I want to hold up the Bill, I just have things to say.

We have been told time and again that disabled people with life-limiting conditions—and I use that term advisedly because we do not recognize the terms “terminal illness” and “months” or “weeks to live”; ... have nothing to fear from the Bill. We are told that it is necessary only to help a few desperate individuals to end their lives when they have weeks or months to live, and that, if enacted, it will not touch anyone who does not want it. 

I do not believe that and, it seems, neither do the authors of the Bill. Why else would they elect to name it the Assisted Dying Bill instead of the assisted suicide Bill? If it is truly concerned only with personal autonomy and choice, surely that should be celebrated and clear.

Link to the full article

Isn't assisted suicide really suicide?

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister in the UK, announced at a mental health conference, the government's intention to reduce suicide to zero by working in cooperation with every part of the National Health Service and other agencies.

According to The Telegraph news, Clegg is modeling this suicide prevention program on the successful program that was implemented in Detroit Michigan. The article stated:

... every suicide is preventable if NHS trusts provide better care for people suffering from depression and other serious illnesses. 
The “zero suicides” target can be met through simple measures, such as keeping in touch with patients who have been discharged from mental health wards and creating a plan so that patients and their friends know whom to contact if they are placing themselves in danger. 
Police and transport agencies will be called on to examine whether safety measures can be put in place in “hot zones” where high numbers of suicides occur, such as shopping centres or bridges. 
The plans have been inspired by a mental health programme in Detroit, US, where a “zero suicide” commitment resulted in no-one in the care of state depression services taking their lives in two years.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and similar organizations encourages the UK government to implement a goal of ending suicide. We recognize that suicide is 100% preventable.

Link to the full article

Help Not Dead Yet UK defeat the assisted suicide bill.

Not Dead Yet UK

Join the Not Dead Yet UK thunderclap to unleash tweets, facebook and social media messages in opposition to the assisted suicide bill at the same time on Friday January 16, the day when the House of Lords will be yet again discussing and amending the assisted dying bill.

Not Dead Yet UK has been using thunderclap for the past year and it has enabled them to win the social media battle. The assisted suicide lobby has caught onto this and have copied them. Instead of physically protesting on Friday, Not Dead Yet UK are having a virtual protest which includes writing to peers and signing up to their Thunderclap. Please use your networks to ensure we have a virtual presence opposing the assisted suicide bill on Friday? 

Link to thunderclap

The Not Dead Yet UK Thunderclap just went online so only a few have signed up but that will soon change with your help. 

The Thunderclap is set to go off  just before the Lords debate begins in London England at 9.30 am (GMT) on Friday 16th January.

That is the same as 4:30 am (Toronto/EST) or 5:30 pm (Sydney Australia)

Many thanks for your continued help in this campaign.

Liz Carr – Not Dead Yet UK

Psychiatric euthanasia deaths tripled in the Netherlands

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

This Friday, January 16, the British House of Lords will resume its debate on the assisted dying bill. Today, the Daily Mail published an extensive article on the euthanasia practise in the Netherlands.

The article focuses on the Netherlands euthanasia statistics and recent trends including the fact that psychiatric euthanasia tripled in the Netherlands in 2013. The article states:

The latest official figures also revealed a 15 per cent surge in the number of euthanasia deaths from 4,188 cases in 2012 to 4,829 cases last year. 
The incremental rise is consistent with a 13 per cent increase in 2012, an 18 per cent rise in 2011, 19 per cent in 2010 and 13 per cent in 2009. 
The rise is also likely to confirm the fears of Dutch regulator Theo Boer who told the Daily Mail that he expected to see euthanasia cases smash the 6,000 barrier in 2014. 
Overall, deaths by euthanasia, which officially account for three per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands, have increased by 151 per cent in just seven years.

The statistics also indicate that of the 4829 euthanasia deaths in 2013, about 3600 were people with cancer, 97 were people with dementia and 42 were people with psychiatric issues.

Link to the full article

Assisted dying would turn doctor's into executioners

A majority of Britons may support the Bill, but that's also true of the death penalty

I was going through past articles from and I came across this article that was originally published in the Independent on July 18, 2014. Alex Schadenberg

By Kevin Yuill

Kevin Yuill

Kevin Yuill

Clayton Lockett’s death by lethal injection earlier this year in Oklahoma brought a storm of criticism of Oklahoma’s death penalty procedures. Lockett mumbled, writhed, blinked his eyes and licked his lips throughout the procedure and took over 30 minutes to die. The Los Angeles Times observed: “The Oklahoma case is sure to be cited as strong evidence that state prison authorities cannot be trusted to capably administer lethal injections.”

But today the House of Lords is debating whether to invest British doctors with the same powers as the Oklahoma state prison authorities. Doctors will effectively become executioners if Lord Falconer’s Bill becomes law.

Why do liberals who, like me, think that capital punishment is unacceptable in a civilized society rush to support Falconer’s Bill? Beyond simply the method of dispatching people, there are many other similarities. If the premeditated killing of a human being by the state, even for the best possible reasons, is wrong, assisted dying is wrong.

Link to the full article