Tuesday 22 September 2009

Suicide guidelines could undermine the law

Yesterday, I highlighted how the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) seems to be on a PR bandwagon that's preparing the public for his guidelines on assisted suicide which are due out tomorrow. It looks like he will say that the authorities will only take action against those who help friends or relatives kill themselves if there's evidence of coercion or ulterior motives.

Paul Tully of SPUC has pointed out how parliament recently voted against letting people take others abroad for suicide, adding: "Now the legal authorities are forcing a weakening of the law against helping people to kill themselves. There is a democratic deficit in their action." He said that the DPP's failure to take action on high-profile assisted suicides had weakened the law. The guidelines could undermine disabled people.

The DPP is issuing these guidelines because of a House of Lords ruling. Lord Phillips (right), now president of the new supreme court, expressed sympathy for people who wanted to kill themselves.

The prime minister's spokesman restated Mr Brown's opposition to assisted suicide but would not be drawn on the DPP's guidelines. Mr Cameron, the leader of the opposition, has called moves to tolerate assisted suicide "dangerous for society". We must hold these politicians to account. We must also build a massive public campaign against any guidelines which allow assisted suicide in practice. The present law, which unambiguously forbids helping someone to kill themselves, should not be undermined.

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