Consultation on Assisted Dying/Assisted Suicide – January 2023

The Health and Social Care Committee in the UK Parliament conducted a public consultation as part of its inquiry
into assisted dying/assisted suicide.  Below is my response to that consultation, which closed on Friday 20 January 2023.

[the online form can be located at]

1]  I broadly agree …


2]  The 1961 Suicide Act has a stern face and a kind heart – it punishes the criminal, and it protects the vulnerable.  That is what good laws do.  Moreover, it provides some discretion for prosecution in the most severe cases.


By contrast, assisted dying/assisted suicide laws enacted in other jurisdictions have been signally disastrous – their eligibility criteria have, without exception, been subjected to a dangerous slippery slope of widening, from the terminally ill, to the mentally ill, to those who are ‘tired of life’, and now even to children.


The plain truth is this – robust legal safeguards cannot be comprehensively written down on a piece of paper – the weak and the vulnerable will remain unguarded.  And once the concept of causing premature death is decriminalised, the practice grows and grows – year on year, the numbers of deaths invariably increase.  Moreover, whenever inchoate assisted suicide is accepted as legal, decent and honourable, its proponents then demand the legalisation of full-blown euthanasia – vide Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and so on.


Further obstacles exist.  For example, predicting forthcoming deaths in, say, 6 months is unfeasible; discerning the likelihood of financial and emotional pressures from families is unrealistic; assessing hasty, bad decisions made under acute depression and duress is implausible.


Palliative care is the principal antidote to calls for assisted dying/assisted suicide.  Therefore additional, better, and more widespread palliative care is essential – the dying need assisted living, not assisted dying.


We must have the utmost empathy and sympathy for all those who live and suffer on a daily basis.  However, the gravity and consequences of changing the current law are too great.  The outcome would be too far-reaching, and too devastating for the disadvantaged, the disabled, and the dying.  Legal protection, medical practice, and our regard for human life would never be the same again.


3]  Personal dignity, risk of coercion of vulnerable groups and ‘other’.


4]  The historic doctor-patient relationship of respect and trust would end if an assisted dying/assisted suicide law were enacted.  Currently, doctors have a leading role in preventing suicide – a change in the law would ask them to facilitate suicide.  The consequences would be hideous.


5]  Further independent research and ‘other’. 

Obtaining and assessing the responses from members of the majority disability rights groups, who are generally opposed to assisted dying/assisted suicide legislation, would be enlightening.  Many fear that they would be ‘pushed to the front’ of the queue for assisted dying.