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Parliament must act to help those failed by UK’s assisted dying laws, hear parliamentary humanists

Speakers at the APPHG event on assisted dying, ‘In conversation with Paul Lamb, a fight for the right to die’.

Parliament must reconsider the UK’s laws on assisted dying to give dignity to suffering people who are forced to travel abroad to die, MPs and peers heard yesterday at an event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG).

Assisted dying campaigner and Humanists UK patron Paul Lamb, who is paralysed from the neck down, told MPs that forcing people who are terminally ill or incurably suffering to travel abroad makes them feel ‘like an embarrassment to our country’.

The APPHG (to which Humanists UK provides the secretariat) yesterday hosted ‘In conversation with Paul Lamb, a fight for the right to die’, which was chaired by APPHG Co-Chair Crispin Blunt MP.

The event, held at Parliament, opened with Professor Wendy Savage, who sits on the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Medical Ethics Committee discussing the BMA’s history of opposing a change in the law on assisted dying. Wendy, who spoke in a personal capacity and not representing the BMA, explained that while the BMA had voted to change to a ‘neutral’ stance in 2005, it reversed its decision a year later following a change of leadership. Since then, it has resisted repeated calls to poll its 170,000 members on their views, despite the Royal College of Physicians currently undertaking a poll on the matter.

The event also heard from Nancy Collins, a Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, who represented Humanists UK in Noel Conway’s recent legal case, who gave an overview of the courts’ decisions on assisted dying laws including the most recent legal case.

Paul Lamb, who, alongside Tony and Jane Nicklinson, took a right to die case to the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights, shared his personal story at the event. Paul said that forcing people to travel abroad to a country they have never visited before makes them feel like an embarrassment. He also said it is crucial that any assisted dying law also included people who are incurably suffering, not just those who are terminally ill, adding ‘those with terminal illnesses know their pain and suffering will end, yet for thousands of people like me, without the right to die our pain could be endless’.

NOTES:

For more information, contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read more about our campaign on assisted dying: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/assisted-dying/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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