Commission approves assisted suicide
Patients with less than a year to live should be helped to die legally, a 415-page
report has recommended.
The Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by Lord Falconer QC, said
doctors should be allowed to assist terminally ill patients to kill themselves
as long as the patients had less than a year to live, and provided they met
The report said people who might not have the mental capacity to make such a
choice, or experiencing pressure from friends or relatives, would be protected by a
‘comprehensive set’ of safeguards.
Two independent doctors’ opinions would be required before deciding that
a patient should be entitled to assisted suicide. Disabled people and those
suffering from dementia or depression would not qualify for help in killing
Patients would also be given a ‘cooling off’ period of up to two weeks before
being given the lethal drugs that they must take themselves.
The commission was sponsored by the Dignity in Dying society, spearheaded by
popular author and pro-euthanasia spokesperson Terry Pratchett, so its stance is no
The expert panel included members of parliament, a former president of the
General Medical Council, a former police commissioner, a leading consultant in
disability equality, an Anglican priest and medical, mental health, palliative care and
social care specialists.
However, on his blog, Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical
Fellowship, wrote: ‘The commission’s press release needs to be taken with a large
helping of salt. Nine of its eleven members were known backers of assisted suicide
with a strong ideological vested interest in this as the outcome’.
According to Christian Concern (CC), more than 40 organisations, including the
British Medical Association, refused to take part in the commission’s research. Andrea
Williams, CC chief executive, said, ‘This commission has been widely exposed as
nothing short of a campaign group to change the law. The law must not be weakened
in this area. The weak and vulnerable