Euthanasia Bill withdrawn, but for purely politictal motives

“While the decision by Labour MP Maryan Street to withdraw her Euthanasia Bill from the Members Ballot today is welcomed, we understand that it arises from purely political motives – a wish to avoid a controversial debate in an election year – rather than out of concern for the dangerous social consequences of such a Bill,” says Dr John Kleinsman, Director of The Nathaniel Centre, the Catholic Bishops’ bioethics agency.

The reason Street gave for her decision on Thursday to withdraw was that there would probably be only two more days this year in which members’ bills would be considered by the House and “Anything that is drawn, including the ones drawn today, will be debated in election year, and I don’t want my bill debated in election year,” she said.

“I’m concerned that it would not get the treatment it deserves. It needs sober, considered reflection, and that’s not a hallmark of election years in my experience.”

Kleinsman says, “The current law provides the best possible protection for people. We have always had grave concerns about the consequences of state-sanctioned killing of persons as well as moves to promote easier access to suicide as a way of dealing with suffering. We will continue to highlight the dangers and negative social consequences that would flow from legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia.

“While the Bill has been withdrawn for now, we know the debate will continue. Ironically, Street’s decision coincides with reports in the media of a high-level review into suicide prevention amongst those with addictions and mental health issues. Why would we want to make suicide easier to access when, at the same time, we recognise it as a major social tragedy?”

“Ultimately, the law change being proposed in Ms Street’s End of Life Choice Bill would have eroded the choices of many and would not have lead to good robust decisions or better end of life care. We remain committed to advocating for equitable access to quality palliative care, disability support, and mental health services for people and their families,” he said.

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