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13th October 2015

The Right to Die

The Bill

The House of Commons recently rejected what is known as the “Right to Die Bill”. The vote wasn’t close; 118 MPs voted for and 330 against.

At the time there was a great deal of public discussion of the subject but it seems likely that there will not be any further debating of the subject in the Houses of Parliament for some years to come.

The Right to Die Bill would legalise the request for competent adults who are terminally ill to obtain assistance with ending their lives. Requests would have been subject to oversight by both medical professionals and the Family Division of the High Court.

Such a debate is important for all of us but I also think that as well as the debate itself we are lucky to be living and working during a time when hospice care and palliative care are very high on the agenda and the progress that has been made with control of pain especially has improved so dramatically.

So what were the arguments on both sides?


  • The key argument in favour was the patient’s right to choose.
  • That religious views should not be imposed on everyone.
  • Dignity in dying should be as important as dignity in life.
  • Those in favour believed that concerns about the pressures that could be placed on vulnerable people could be dealt with by legislating for adequate procedural safeguards by one or more medical practitioners, or the involvement of the family court.


  • “Ill and disabled people may feel under pressure to end their lives”.
  • They may be concerned about the cost of the medical treatment needed to keep them alive.
  • “They may not want to be a ‘burden’ on friends and family.”
  • There were also concerns that any initial legal change which legalises assisted suicide for terminally ill people could then lead to relaxation of the legislation to those without any such illness?

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which dictates ‘the right to respect for private and family life’, has been legally challenged as to whether the offence of assisted suicide is compatible with this human rights legislation.

Many of us know of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson the renowned Paralympian who has said: “It is sadly not simply a case of suffering versus compassion. It is far more complex issue than that. In other jurisdictions that have some form of assisted suicide, pain is near the bottom of the reasons that are given. Being a burden to others is at the top of the list. That is a very sad state of affairs.”

Would a change in the law have been a concern to you?

Please let us know what you think.

Sheila Scott OBE - QCS Care Strategy Consultant


2 thoughts on “The Right to Die”

  1. PAUL KILBURN says:

    Having seen so many difficult deaths over my career where life has been pointlessly preserved for weeks months or years with absolutly no quality of life and utter misery for the patient, I strongly support the right of each person to decide if they wish to end there life.

  2. Joanne crompton says:

    I am neither for or against this but I do believe everyone has the right to choice and that right has been taken away with parliament deciding that no one has the right to end their life how and when they choose to after being diagnosed with a terminal illness in which they loose their dignity, their pride and their right to choose when they can take no more, if I myself was diagnosed with a terminal illness in which my last days would be spent in pain I would choose to end my life even though my family would want me to go on to the bitter end I would not want to as I know to grant them that wish I would be so drugged up on pain relief I would not know they where there and it would be unfair to everyone more so to myself, most people have an intense fear of dieing which is a natural human reaction but I would rather die with no pain and with dignity and pride than die in horrendous pain with every ounce of dignity and pride stripped away from me, I can understand the arguments for and against but I still believe it is each individuals choice at the end of the day and no one else should be able to make the choice but each individual person and only after every treatment or course of action has been fully explored and it is 100% certain it is a terminal illness and not a mistake as has happened in some cases where test results have been mixed up. I know it sounds like I contradict myself a little but I do believe mix ups happen and that is why I say it would need to be 100% certain that it is a terminal illness before such a drastic decision is acted upon

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