Today, Baroness Meacher will introduce her assisted dying bill in the House of Lords. If successful, it will legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill patients with six months or less to live, in England and Wales.
Her Bill already has the support of the Sunday Times who launched a campaign on Sunday 23 May in favour of law change. We’re likely to see other media outlets show their support, if not explicitly, then by largely ignoring the voices of those opposed to law change.
Meacher herself is a patron of Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and the main campaign group pushing for law change.
It's important to note that today is just first reading. This is where the bill is introduced and no more. But because it came seventh in the private members' ballot a few weeks ago, it will receive a second reading later this year. Unlike first reading, this is where all Peers will be able to debate the general principles of the proposed legislation. You can expect that around late summer, or possibly early Autumn.
The Meacher Bill is unlikely to become law, although it’s not impossible. It needs to pass all Lords stages and then get through the Commons.
Moreover, this is not to suggest for a single minute we should be complacent. We do not want to sleepwalk into a situation where physician assisted suicide is legalised because we didn’t speak out while we could.
So, what can you do? How can you help?
Firstly, you can PRAY. Pray for God’s grace, wisdom and help. Pray for groups like Care Not Killing, Our Duty of Care (ODOC), No to assisted suicide, the new APPG called Dying Well and others who will be involved in making the case for quality living, not assisted dying.
CARE’s Ten Ways to Pray about End of Life will help shape your prayers.
Secondly, you can contact your MP and ask them where they stand on this particular issue. Since 2015, we’ve seen a number of elections and so the make-up of the House of Commons has changed enormously. Ask your MP what they think. If you can, let us know because this intelligence could prove useful.
Thirdly, if you have a story about end of life, similar to these one’s, then please, get in touch. Email email@example.com if you think your story might help.
To inspire you, below you'll find a film we made a few years ago. It features CARE's CEO, Nola Leach, explaining her own experience with husband Tony, who passed away a few years ago.