BHA briefs Parliamentarians on assisted suicide consultation

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has briefed MPs and Peers on a Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) consultation. The DPP is consulting on its guidelines that clarify the issues that will be taken into account when deciding whether or not to consent to the prosecution of individuals who assist someone to die, including when people have accompanied loved ones abroad for an assisted death.

The guidelines are being prepared as a result of the prominent case of Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, who recently won her case in the UK’s highest court. The judgment required that the DPP publish clear guidance, showing when it would or would not prosecute someone for assisting someone to die.

This is not a change in the law; assisted dying remains illegal. However this does represent a significant and positive change to the present situation.

Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said, ‘The BHA supports the development and publication of the ‘Interim Policy’ as we believe it helps to give considerable clarification on the factors that the DPP will take into consideration when deciding whether or not to prosecute somebody who has assisted another to die. This is especially important in that it gives information that provides people with greater choice over their decisions on these matters. It is welcome that the ‘Interim Policy’ indicates that it is unlikely that those who compassionately assist another to die would be prosecuted.’

‘However, it is our firm position that the law on assisted dying the UK is in need of extensive reform. We believe that legalisation, with strict safeguards in place, is ethically far preferable than our present law and would be by far the best way to protect vulnerable people.’

Notes

Read the BHA’s briefing for Parliamentarians, which sets out our position.

Read the BHA’s response to the consultation, which takes the form of a memorandum and a completed response form.

You can take action on this consultation. For more information see www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/ethical-issues/assisted-dying

For any further questions or information, please contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.