Edinburgh MP Christine Jardine in call for national debate on assisted dying law

Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has called for a review of the law on assisted dying and a national debate on the issue.

By Ian Swanson
Saturday, 7th November 2020, 7:00 am

She claimed public opinion had changed and pointed to the recent referendum in New Zealand which had overwhelmingly backed allowing the option for those who are terminally ill.

A cross-party group of MSPs is expected to bring a fresh Bill to Holyrood after next year’s elections.

And at Westminster, Ms Jardine joined in questioning of UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on the issue, urging the government to recognise the need to respond to research showing that more than 80 per cent of people support the idea that someone in the later stages of a terminal illness should have the right to decide how they die.

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Christine Jardine is calling for a national debate

Ms Jardine said: “We need a national debate to bring some compassion to a situation which, sadly, many people face at the end of their lives where they know that a decision to die in the way that they choose means an expensive trip to Switzerland and the risk of anyone who helps them being criminalised.

“There needs to be a review of the current law to decriminalise assisted dying and bring some compassion into the law and to respond to the change in public opinion.”

Answering a series of questions from MPs on the issue, Mr Hancock said it was a matter of conscience and the government remained neutral.

But he said: “I think it is absolutely reasonable for this House to have a conversation and discussion on what is an important topic, and it is right that we locate that question within a broader discussion of how we care for people at the end of their lives.”

Ms Jardine led a debate on assisted dying at Westminster earlier this year. After Mr Hancock’s answer, she said: “I appreciate that the government wants to remain neutral on an issue of conscience, but as elected representatives we have a duty to make sure that we are where the majority of the public wants us to be so we should be debating this issue within parliament.”

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