The British Humanist Association (BHA) has supported calls for an independent inquiry into the law on assisted dying for terminally ill adults in the UK. The BHA has briefed Peers ahead of a debate in the House of Lords today on the issue, called by former Health Minister and member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Lord Warner.
Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented, ‘Recent weeks have seen a resurgence in interest in the issue of assisted dying from across the social, media, legal and political spectrum, not least because of recent cases where it has been shown the law is in need of extensive reform. At present, the law does not distinguish between those who compassionately assisted a loved one to die – including accompanying them abroad for a legal assisted death – and those who kill with malicious intent.’
‘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. That is why we are urging support for an independent inquiry to examine the evidence relating to a change in the law. Such an inquiry would draw together and examine evidence from jurisdictions where assisted dying is legal, proving invaluable resource to help towards evidence-based policy making on this sensitive issue.’
The debate is being held in the same week as Sir Terry Pratchett, a distinguished supporter of the BHA, took the Dimbleby Lecture, on the subject of assisted dying.
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.