The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland today told the Joint Committee on Human Rights that there are no plans to review the current law on assisted suicide.
He also said that he personally had ‘grave doubts’ about the efficacy of creating a law that would not be open to unintended consequences and abuse.
The current law puts a blanket ban on assisted suicide. Over the last decade and more, Parliament has routinely rejected attempts to change that law, with MPs and Peers citing the need to protect the most vulnerable from harm.
Mr Buckland was taking part in an oral evidence session looking at the Government’s response to coronavirus and its impact on human rights.
His answers on assisted suicide were a response to a question posed by Fiona Bruce MP.
Why is this so important?
In his response, the Justice Secretary made mention of the fact that assisted suicide is a conscious issue and it is up to Parliament to decide.
Moreover, the courts have routinely over the last decade made that very point, as well as rejecting numerous cases which sought to force a change in the law.
Earlier this year, we highlighted that pro-assisted suicide campaigners were pushing for a review into the existing law as a means of applying further pressure on MPs to back the change.
The Government’s very clear statement to the end that they have no plans to review the current law is therefore very welcome.
At a time when we are putting far more emphasise than normal on protecting the most vulnerable, it is clear that assisted suicide would achieve the opposite.
Evidence from places where assisted suicide is legal demonstrates that when you open the door, the numbers will rise and frequently, patients will mention fear of being a burden as a key reason for choosing assisted suicide.
At CARE, we believe it is better to care, not to kill. By supporting palliative care services, we can in the vast majority of cases, greatly reduce trauma and stress at the end of life.