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assisted suicide

The number of people travelling to Switzerland to take their own lives because of serious illness has doubled within the space of four years. A study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics shows that the bulk of patients are from Germany and the UK. For many people suffering from debilitating illnesses, Switzerland offers the only place where they can end their lives. VoR's Simon Parker has more.

In a surprise change of stance, the former leader of the Church of England George Carey said today that he would support a British bill to allow assisted suicide in some circumstances. In his first intervention in the debate, the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby reiterated his and the Church's opposition to the bill, ahead of its second reading next week in parliament's upper chamber, the House of Lords.

 

Britain's Supreme Court has rejected two appeals which would have paved the way to allowing assisted suicide in the UK. Paralysed car crash victim Paul Lamb and Jane Bickinson, widow of a man who had locked-in syndrome, brought the cases seeking to change the law that currently bans doctors from helping patients who wish to die. VoR spoke to Dr Richard Huxtable, a reader in Medical Ethics and Law at the University of Bristol, about the verdicts.

Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales and is technically punishable by up to 14 years in prison. In 2013, Lord Falconer tabled an Assisted Dying Bill which proposed that two doctors would have to sign off the fatal dose. It has yet to be voted upon. VoR's Juliet Spare hosts a debate about this contentious issue.

The British government will not stand in the way of legislation that would permit assisted suicide, the Ministry of Justice said Sunday as parliament prepares to examine a bill. The governing coalition will not order its lawmakers to block the proposals and instead they will be given a free vote according to conscience, a spokesman said.

Campaigners for assisted suicide have welcomed comments made by Professor Stephen Hawking, who said those with terminal illnesses should have the right to choose to die. VoR's Daniel Cinna spoke to Dr Michael Irwin from the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide who said Hawking's comments are helpful to his cause.

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January 2017
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