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With MPs voting against assisted dying, the fight must now turn back to the courts

Dignity in Dying posted a number of billboards in support of the bill around Westminster Underground station. Photo credit: Dignity in Dying.

The House of Commons has today voted against the Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill, put forward by Rob Marris MP, by 118 votes in favour to 330 votes against. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed regret at the outcome.

BHA Director of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented,

‘80% of the public support a change in the law to legalise assisted dying, but it is clear that Parliament still has some way to go before it reflects this fact. In the meantime, countless individuals are needlessly suffering, or facing the prospect of travelling to Switzerland or having their loved ones illegally end their lives.

‘Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that while it is willing to consider whether the lack of a right to die breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, it thought that Parliament should first have the opportunity to legislate on the matter. Today Parliament has declined to do so, and so the fight on assisted dying must now return to the courts. We will continue to campaign in favour of assisted dying for the terminally ill and incurably suffering, as this is one of the most pressing ethical issues of our day.’

Among those arguing in favour of the Bill were five members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, who passionately called on their fellow members to acknowledge the profound ethical case for assisted dying. They were Karin Smith, Keir Starmer (former Director of Public Prosecutions), Jim Fitzpatrick, Andy Slaughter, and Crispin Blunt, who is the group’s Vice Chair.

Former Care Minister Norman Lamb also backed the change, and quoted from the humanist philosopher John Stuart Mill when he reminded his fellow members that ‘In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on pavan@humanism.org.uk or 07738435059.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on assisted dying: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/assisted-dying/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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