Election time – unless you elect to die

The most heated UK General Election of decades happens in a couple of days’ time. There is a genuine contest between the three main UK parties. Thinking of challenging them? Here’s some of their views so far.

David Cameron, the Conservative Leader, said to The Catholic Herald:
“My personal view is that if assisted dying is legalised, there is a danger that terminally ill people may feel pressurised into ending their lives if they feel they’ve become a burden on loved ones .  . . . So no, I don’t support any change in the law.” As if some small consolation to the large numbers that consistently support a change in the law, aides added that Mr Cameron regards assisted suicide as a ‘free vote’ issue and would not want to force Tory MPs to vote with him against their consciences.

Prime Minister and Labour Leader, Gordon Brown also calls it a ‘matter of conscience’ – neatly sidestepping any rational analysis. In Prime Minister’s Questions, he has said he “always opposed legislation for assisted deaths”.

The Liberal Democrats backed assisted dying as official policy in 2004, but have yet to promote the issue effectively in or out of parliament. Party Leader Nick Clegg said that a LibDem MP, Chris Davies, who put forward an assisted suicide bill, went “beyond the demands of the motion passed by delegates.” The motion supported measures “based on the Dutch model, which provided more safeguards for patients, he said, while Mr Davies was promoting the more controversial Swiss model.” Mr Clegg also added that MPs should “follow their conscience.”

Margo Macdonald

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party have leaned away from reform. Carrying the flag is lone Independent MSP, Margo Macdonald, with her End of Life Choices Bill.

Margo’s bill has been attacked by the churches and a group of palliative care doctors, among others. But newspapers have been quick to point out that such attacks are not supported by the majority of Scots. URGENT: Please Comment on Margo’s bill to the Scottish Parliament before 12th May 2010 deadline.

Eugène Sutorius wants the right to assisted suicide even if he is not seriously ill

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands citizens want to take their euthanasia laws even further than most people and organisations (include EXIT at the moment) currently support. A Dutch citizens action group, Out of Free Will, wants to legalize assisted suicide for anyone over 70, who has an ‘explicit, logical and consistent’ desire to end their life. Called Completed Life, the proposals suggest the task should be carried out by a new kind of specially trained and certified professional. Legal scholar Eugène Sutorius (63) said he considered the right a cultural matter, and that he was looking for freedom to face death “in a stoic manner”, without fear of a legal system that branded assisted suicide as criminal.

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