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Developments on assisted-dying Bill

28 November 2014


From the Rt Revd the Lord Carey of Clifton

Sir, - Professor Nigel Biggar's helpful article on assisted dying has, I believe, now been overtaken by events (Comment, 31 October). Professor Biggar concedes that it may not always be wrong to take one's own life. Indeed, he even recognises that in extreme cases pain is so severe that a patient must be sedated to the point of unconsciousness, and that the implication of double effect is that doctors hasten death out of sight.

Lord Pannick's amendment to the Falconer Bill surely addresses Professor Biggar's substantial concern? The introduction of judicial oversight would bring another welcome layer of protection to vulnerable people.

Finally, his arguments about the slippery slope are addressed by looking at Oregon with a law similar to Lord Falconer's rather than the very different framework in Holland and Belgium. Oregon has had an assisted-dying law for nearly two decades, and no serious attempt has been made there to extend provision. The Oregon Hospice Association, which opposed assisted dying, now concurs that there is no evidence that Oregon's law has undermined palliative care or harmed vulnerable people. The law you enact is the law you get.

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