Campaigners are this Sunday celebrating the first anniversary of the defeat of the Marris Assisted Suicide Bill on 11th September 2015.
On that day the UK House of Commons had its first vote on the issue of assisted suicide since Joe Ashton’s ‘Doctor Assisted Dying’ Bill in 1997. The Ashton Bill was defeated at Second Reading by 234 votes to 89, a majority of 145 votes. When the House voted on the Marris Bill, it rejected assisted suicide by 330 votes to 118, a majority of 212 votes. Not only was the Marris Bill defeated by a numerically larger majority, it was defeated by a bigger proportion of the MPs who turned up to vote.
In 2015, the defeat in the House of Commons was joined by the voting down of similar attempts to introduce assisted suicide in both Scotland and Wales. In Scotland MSPs voted down Green MSP Patrick Harvie’s assisted suicide bill by 82 votes to 16. Similarly in Wales a proposal on the principle of assisted suicide was defeated after just 12 AMs supported it. By contrast, 21 AMs – almost twice the number in favour – voted against it, whilst 20 abstained.
In the year since since the defeat of the Marris assisted suicide Bill, the British Medical Association has also voted 195 to 115 to maintain its opposition to assisted suicide.
Their continued opposition places them amongst a number of prominent voices in the disability rights community who continue their resistance to introducing assisted suicide including Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and the actress and activist Liz Carr. We have also seen continued positions of opposition from the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, and General Practitioners, the British Medical Association (which has recently voted to maintain its opposition to assisted suicide), the Association of Palliative Medicine, and many others.
Dr Kevin Yuill spokesperson for No To Assisted Suicide said:
“On this anniversary, we must not rest on the past defeat of the Marris assisted suicide Bill, but be encouraged by it. We must channel our energy into supporting the terminally ill to have as good a death as possible. That means more hospice care, effective social care support and greater understanding of older and disabled people’s needs at end of life.”
For interviews please contact No To Assisted Suicide spokesperson Kevin Yuill at firstname.lastname@example.org