Posted Wednesday, 5 August 2009 at 11:10
Further to the Daily Mail article today:
The 1961 Suicide Act passed by Parliament states that those who aid, abet, counsel or procure someone else’s suicide, can be prosecuted and punished with up to 14 years in jail.
This law is clear and unambiguous.
The Law Lords called for clarification of the existing Law; they did not call for Keir Starmer QC, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, to assume undemocratic legislative powers and create new law.
Clarification of the existing law can only mean one thing: assisting suicide is illegal and prosecutable with up to 14 years in jail.
Keir Starmer cannot change this law without a vote in Parliament. He can only define policy one way and that would be for the law, which has until now been quietly passed over by the authorities, to be paid due attention in each and every case.
He can only provide guidance that the existing law should be adhered to, not altered in its purpose or intent.
If Keir Starmer believes he can introduce policy, which would legalise assisted suicide both abroad and in the UK, without Parliamentary debate with appropriate time for all the arguments for and against to be discussed, and then voted upon, he is very much mistaken.
The Law Lords knew what they were doing, it appears others may not.
If assisted suicide becomes legal, it will be the first step towards state assisted suicide. Not every next of kin is a loved one. In the case of many elderly and disabled, the ‘kin’ is in fact the State.
In the case of someone receiving palliative care or chronic medical care when in hospital or a nursing home: how long would it be before it would become acceptable for a Dr to suggest saving tax payers money and freeing an NHS bed?
How many people in nursing or care homes who feel safe and protected by the law, will feel very vulnerable indeed? How many people who feel a 'burden' will feel as though it will be expected of them to consider suicide as a way out, because they want to make life easier for those to whom they feel a burden?
It is very sad, given the standard of hospice care available in the UK, that some feel the need to take their own life; however, they do. Until now their relatives have never been prosecuted.
The ruling by the Law Lords has placed the Law, which has until now been largely impotent and exploited, but nonetheless a silent barrier against abuse, under the spotlight to be scrutinised.
The outcome may make future prosecutions more not less likely.
The first job of Parliament is to protect the majority and the vulnerable. When weighing the threats posed to such groups by the legalisation of assisted suicide, Parliament could only vote one way.
Sometimes it’s better just to let sleeping dogs lie.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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