Paul Lamb head and shoulders photograph

New legal bid for assisted suicide

9th May 2019 - James Mildred

A new legal challenge to the law that outlaws assisted suicide was launched this week by Paul Lamb, 63, who was paralysed from the neck down following a car crash around 30 years ago.

Under the current law, assisting someone to kill themselves is illegal and carries a possible maximum prison sentence of 14 years. 

Mr Lamb has previously challenged UK law and back in 2014, he lost his case at the UK Supreme Court but is now arguing that opinion on assisted suicide has changed significantly since then.

Court says it’s up to Parliament

During the previous case, Mr Lamb argued that the current law breaches the right to a private life in the European Convention on Human Rights, but the court said it was up to Parliament to consider changing the law.

Assisted suicide legislation rejected

In September 2015, MPs voted on the Rob Marris Assisted Dying Bill (No 2) and during the debate, numerous MPs warned of the dangers of legalising assisted suicide.

In the end, the legislation was rejected by 330-118. 2015 also saw assisted suicide legislation defeated in the Scottish Parliament by 82-36.

But pro-assisted suicide campaigners have not stopped trying and there are new moves underway to change the law in Scotland. Following the launch of a new campaign by Dignity in Dying, a cross-party group of MSPs pushed back strongly in a letter in the Sunday Times, saying “society should be preventing suicide, not assisting it”.

Find out more

In August last year, CARE’s James Mildred wrote for the Economist, warning that the slippery slope of assisted suicide was very real.

In this article, CARE consultant Nigel Cameron makes a powerful plea to save doctors from the pressure to kill their own patients.

Read more about CARE’s position on assisted suicide and euthanasia here.

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