Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Assisted Suicide

The Times reports that the recent campaign to change the law on assisted suicide and make it more "liberal" looks like running into the sand. The Prime Minister has declared against it.

"Gordon Brown revealed today that he opposes changing the law on assisted suicide in Britain, as a television channel prepares to screen ground-breaking footage of a British resident dying at a Swiss euthanasia clinic.

The Prime Minister admitted to MPs that he personally would not want see British law reformed to make it legal for terminally ill people like Craig Ewert to receive help in ending their own lives in their own country.

Mr Brown made the surprise intervention when he was questioned by Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat MP whose Harrogate constituency was home to 59-year-old Mr Ewert, a retired university professor who will be seen dying from a lethal dose of barbiturates in a programme broadcast tonight on Sky TV's Real Lives channel.

“Many people in this House recognise that there is a real issue in terms of how we approach assisted dying, but at the moment it’s illegal," said Mr Willis, at Prime Minister's Questions.

“Health and palliative care groups as well as disability and other faith groups oppose assisted dying. Do you regard this programme as being in the public interest or is it simply distasteful voyeurism?”

Mr Brown replied: “These are very difficult issues and we should all remember at the heart of any single individual case are families and people in very difficult circumstances who have to make for themselves very difficult choices and none of us would want to go through that.

“I believe it is a matter of conscience and there are different views on each side of the House about what should be done.

“I believe that it’s necessary to ensure that there is a never a case in the country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it’s the expected thing to do.

“That’s why I’ve always opposed legislation for assisted deaths.” "