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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Assisted suicide should be legal, says major report to parliament

MPs told that people with a terminal illness could be safely offered the choice to end their own lives

By Esther Addley
The Guardian
Originally published Wednesday 4 January 2012

MPs should consider changing the law on assisted suicide to allow some terminally ill people to end their lives at home with the help of their doctor, a major report into the subject has concluded.

The Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by the former lord chancellor Lord Falconer, says a choice to end their own lives could be safely offered to some people with terminal illnesses, provided stringent safeguards were observed.

Describing the current law on assisted dying as "inadequate and incoherent", the commission will today outline a legal framework that would permit only those who had been diagnosed with less than a year to live to seek an assisted suicide, and then only if they met strict eligibility criteria. These would include:
  • Two independent doctors were satisfied with the diagnosis.
  • The person was aware of all the social and medical help available.
  • They were making the decision voluntarily and with no sense of being pressurised by others or feeling "a burden".
  • They were not acting under the influence of a mental illness, and were capable of taking the medication themselves, without help.
The 400-page report follows a year of investigation by the commission, whose members also include the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Blair, a former president of the General Medical Council, a leading consultant in disability equality, an Anglican priest, and medical, mental health, palliative care and social care specialists.

The rest of the story is here.