Edinburgh MP to lead debate at Westminster on assisted dying

Christine Jardine claims public opinion has shifted
Christine Jardine says assisted dying is an issue "we should keep talking about".Christine Jardine says assisted dying is an issue "we should keep talking about".
Christine Jardine says assisted dying is an issue "we should keep talking about".

EDINBURGH West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine is to lead a debate at Westminster on assisted dying in a bid to keep the issue on the agenda.

Two attempts launched by the late Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald to change the law failed in the Scottish Parliament. A bill introduced at Westminster by Labour peer Lord Falconer ran out of time, and a similar bill was defeated in the Commons.

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Ms Jardine said public opinion had shifted in recent years, with a recent poll showing 84 per cent support for the idea that someone in the later stages of a terminal illness should have the right to decide how they die.

The 90-minute debate will take place on Thursday. She said: “It’s to spark discussion and public debate about where we are and what we want to do, look at what other countries have discussed and what they have done - with the aim of changing the law eventually, but that’s a long way off.”

Any move at Westminster would apply only to England and Wales because the issue is devolved to Holyrood.

But Ms Jardine said: “If we are talking about it at Westminster it should promote debate across the country. It’s a debate that affects the entire country.

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“And it’s something we need to talk about. We cannot ignore it as an issue. This is bringing it into the public domain again, talking about it, giving the public the opportunity to discuss, bring the debate forward, see how it is developing and what people want.”

Ms Jardine said she had been prompted to think about the whole issue by Margo MacDonald’s attempts to pass a bill at Holyrood.

“And I’m not alone in there being people I loved and cared about I have seen die painful deaths.

“I have read testimonials of people who have gone through losing someone very painfully who felt perhaps they could have been saved from suffering.

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“I don’t have the answer, but I do feel strongly it is something we have to keep talking about and we have to make sure as MPs we are where the majority of the public want us to be. I don’t want to impose my choice on anyone. I want to enable the debate.”