[email protected]: Anthony Lester – End the legal uncertainty over assisted suicide

Over at the Indpendent, Lib Dem peer Lord (Antony) Lester argues that citizens are entitled to know if their conduct is criminal. Here’s an excerpt:

The Suicide Act 1961 changed the law so that suicide is no longer a crime, but it remains a crime to encourage or assist suicide, and the current state of the law is not as certain as criminal law should be. Criminal liability depends on the way a particular Director of Public Prosecutions decides what is in the public interest.

Like many others, I believe that we need a legal framework which would allow doctors and nurses to be able lawfully to treat terminally ill patients to relieve their suffering as well as pain, even though it would be a virtual certainty that the treatment would shorten their lives.

Such a framework would need to include really stringent safeguards to respect the patient’s right to life and to personal autonomy against coercion or pressure from health care professionals, family or friends, and to protect the freedom of religion and conscience of doctors and nurses. But that reform is not on the Government’s agenda and will not happen in this Parliament. …

At least 115 people have travelled abroad to die at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas. In this sensitive area, the law should reflect the widespread sense of compassion and humanity and provide legal certainty. It is not sufficient to rely upon the way in which the DPP may decide what is in the public interest in any particular case. Citizens are entitled to know whether their conduct is or is not criminal. That is a fundamental principle of the rule of law.

You can read the article in full HERE.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.
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