Tomorrow the DPP, Kier Starmer will publish a new guidance regarding policy on prosecuting assisted suicide cases.
The report follows a period of consultation, which was apparently nudged into action by the Debbie Purdy case.
The law regarding assisted suicide in unequivocal; It is illegal to assist anyone in the taking of their own life.
Prior to the consultation process, Kier Starmer said,
‘Assessing the public interest is not simply a matter of adding up the number of factors on each side and seeing which side of the scales has the greater number. Each case must be considered on its own facts and its own merits. Prosecutors must decide the importance of each public interest factor in the circumstances of each case and go on to make an overall assessment.
In that one paragraph, Kier Starmer has implied that the law is no longer relevant and if Parliament refuses to change the law, he will make it up himself.
The media love a sensational story. Anything which involves tears and tantrums, life or death, finds top billing in the ever increasing drive to sensationalise the news.
The BBC has possibly been one of the worst offenders in terms of pushing an agenda of ‘normalising' attitudes towards assisted suicide. No one can deny that, in the case of Debbi Purdy, it’s tough. Tough not to sympathise and even tougher to say no.
But we have to, because when we pass a law that makes it ok to help someone end their own life, whatever the qualifying criteria, we suddenly plunge millions of people into a position of vulnerability.
People for whom the State is ‘next of kin’. People who feel a burden on their families but know that they are secure and protected by the law. People who may feel depressed and low today but may cope well tomorrow.
None of these people make interesting news. None of the elderly sat in sheltered accommodation make good commentary on the lunch time news and no one sat in a hospital bed unable to articulate an opinion will find a Sunday news reporter beating a path to his bedside for comment.
The vocal minority will use the opinion of those who have been fed their plight via the media to campaign for change.
Whatever Kier Starmer states tomorrow, the law has not changed.