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UK may consider legalising assisted suicide

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The law in the UK should be changed to make it easier for terminally ill people in unbearable pain to die, a special committee of the House of Lords has recommended.

People in the UK already have the right to refuse life-saving treatment, but it is illegal for doctors to perform euthanasia on request or to assist in someone’s suicide by giving them the means to kill themselves. The committee said the UK should consider legalising only assisted suicide, like Switzerland and the US state of Oregon, or only voluntary euthanasia, as in Belgium, or both, like the Netherlands. If both were permitted, 10,000 people a year might take advantage of the law.The committee recommends safeguards such obtaining the opinion of at least two doctors and leaving a two-week waiting period. It also says that the doctors involved should work for the state-funded National Health Service to ensure that private “death clinics” not emerge.”Opinion polls consistently show that the vast majority of the public want control over their own destiny at the end of their life,” says MP Evan Harris, a former hospital doctor. “It’s about time the political establishment shifted away from their comfortable position of rejecting any change in the law.”(Source: New Scientist: issue 2494: April 2005.)

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Dates

Posted On: 7 April, 2005
Modified On: 16 January, 2014


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