Friday, 20 March 2009

Assisted Suicide

Assisted Suicide is still illegal in the United Kingdom. The courts are not prepared to allow people mainly the terminally ill patients to die, given the aid by their loved ones. There are many people who wants to die but they could not do so without their loved ones who helped them to die being prosecuted by the police.

What they could do is to travel to Switzerland, Amsterdam or Belgium to die voluntarily. The difference is that they have to administer the poison themselves. Before going through the procedure, they have to sign a piece of document stating that they are doing so out of their own free will.

Today, we have news that Patricia Hewitt is backing suicide campaigners to allow those terminally ill patients to die legally in the UK. Here is the article taken from Yahoo News today.

Patricia Hewitt has tabled a Commons amendment to the Government's Coroners and Justice Bill to protect those who help terminally-ill relatives and friends travel abroad for an assisted suicide.

Although it is designed to provoke debate and is not expected to be pushed to a vote, the move sparked immediate condemnation from opponents of assisted suicide who warned it would lead to "an opening of the floodgates".

Ms Hewitt said: "In the long term we need a Bill to change the law to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults suffering at the end of their lives the choice of an assisted death, within safeguards, in this country.

"In the meantime, I hope that the amendment I have tabled will prompt the long overdue parliamentary debate necessary to bring the law on assisted suicide in line with the practice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the courts."

A number of high-profile cases have put the issue in the spotlight and more than 100 MPs have signed a Commons motion calling for it to be debated.

Paralysed rugby player Daniel James, 23, committed suicide at a Swiss clinic run by Dignitas last September, leading the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charges against his parents Mark and Julie.

Last month, multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy lost an Appeal Court bid to secure a guarantee from the DPP that no such charges would be brought if she took advantage of a foreign clinic.

She wants to be sure that if her suffering becomes intolerable, her husband, Cuban violinist Omar Puente, will not be prosecuted if he helps her travel abroad to die in a country where assisted suicide is legal.

But three judges ruled Ms Purdy was not legally entitled to the kind of specific guidance she was seeking.

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