|Baroness Jane Campbell|
Hostility towards disabled and elderly in wake of recession means it would be a ‘dangerous time’ to consider changing law no assisted suicide.
The threat to frail elderly and disabled people from relatives tempted to get rid of them under the guise of euthanasia has grown “dramatically” in the wake of the economic downturn, one of Britain’s most prominent disability campaigners has claimed.An article written by John Bingham and published in the Telegraph states that Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, issued an impassioned plea in the House of Lords against moves to further relax Britain’s laws on assisted suicide. The article reported that:
The guidelines drawn up by the former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer four years ago signal that people who assist a loved one to take their own life out of compassion are unlikely to be prosecuted.
Baroness Jay, the Labour peer, who tabled the debate on the prosecution guidelines, argued that the current law is “ambiguous”.
Later this year peers are also due to debate a private member’s bill tabled by Lord Falconer, the Labour former Lord Chancellor, to legalise so-called “assisted dying” in Britain for the first time.
She said the rules could be exploited by people who lie to police about a relative’s intentions after they have apparently taken their own life.
But Baroness Campbell, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy, argued strongly against any steps allowing doctors or nurses to help people take their own lives. Campbell reportedly said:
she and others had successfully resisted a proposal to make the fact that someone suffers a progressive condition or disability a factor weighing against prosecution for assisted suicide.
“Terminally ill and disabled people are in a worse position today than was the case five years ago.
“National economic instability means that public support services are under more pressure than ever.
“That has hardened public attitudes towards progressive illnesses, old age and disability.
"Words such as ‘burden’, ‘scrounger’ and ‘demographic time bomb’ come to mind, and hate crime figures in relation to vulnerable people have increased dramatically.
“This is a dangerous time to consider facilitating assistance with suicide for those who most need our help and support.
“It is not only dangerous for those who may see suicide as their only option, but can be tempting for those who would benefit from their absence.”
“Belgium has recently extended its law on euthanasia to include terminally ill and disabled children.
“That is not a future I want for our children or the most vulnerable, and this House has made it clear that it shares that view.”
Baroness Campbell is a great spokesperson for people with disabilities.