British parliament rejects right-to-die law

Bill would have allowed doctors in the UK to prescribe lethal injections to some terminally ill patients.

    The British parliament has rejected a bill that would allow assisted suicide.

    The Assisted Dying Bill would have allowed doctors in the UK to prescribe lethal injections to some terminally ill patients with less than six months to live.

    The bill was overwhelmingly rejected by 330 votes to 118 in Friday's vote.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron and religious groups, including the Church of England, had said they were opposed to changing the current laws.

    Supporters of change

    Campaigners for a change in the legislation said it could lead to up to 1,800 people a year being helped to end their lives in their own country with dignity.

    Almost 300 Britons have travelled to Switzerland to take advantage of their right-to-die laws.

    Keir Starmer told parliament that the bill would give terminally ill people who had reached a "voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to end their lives" the possibility of asking a doctor to help them to do so.

    At the moment, he said, "They can have amateur assistance from their nearest and dearest but they can’t have professional help."

    Lesley Close, whose brother John travelled to a Swiss Dignitas clinic to inject himself with lethal drugs in 2003, also supported a change in the laws.

    Close was once a keen marathon runner but in 2001 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

    "He couldn’t speak but you could tell from (the) kind of grunting sounds that he made and expressions on his face that he needed something," Close said.

    "But he didn’t want to get to the point where he couldn’t even do that., where he couldn’t tell you his nose itched or he needed to go to the lavatory. That life would become just a timetable at somebody else’s command."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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