Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Previous decisions by the UK Parliament and Judges to reject assisted suicide should be upheld by the Supreme Court

Press Release issued on behalf of Care Not Killing
RELEASE DATE: Wednesday 20th June 2018

The previous decisions by Parliament and judges in the High Court and Court of Appeal to reject attempts to legalise assisted suicide should be upheld by the Supreme Court, says Care Not Killing

This latest attempt, brought by Noel Conway, is seeking permission to appeal against previous rulings in UK’s top court.

Mr Conway’s legal team is expected to argue that the current blanket ban on assisted suicide under the Suicide Act is incompatible with his human rights. They will ask a panel of three Supreme Court Justices to grant them permission to appeal.

However, this exact same argument has been repeatedly rejected by the Courts, including the Court of Appeal as recently as June this year. In the most recent ruling the judges concluded that the current blanket ban on assisted suicide achieves a fair balance between the interests of the wider community and the interests of people in the position of Mr Conway.

While last year, three experienced High Court judges dismissed similar arguments, saying:

“It is legitimate in this area for the legislature to seek to lay down clear and defensible standards in order to provide guidance for society, to avoid distressing and difficult disputes at the end of life and to avoid creating a slippery slope leading to incremental expansion over time of the categories of people to whom similar assistance for suicide might have to [be] provided... we find that section 2 (right to life) is compatible with the Article 8 rights (private and family life) of Mr Conway. We dismiss his application for a declaration of incompatibility.”
The judges went on to say that the objectives of the current law are not limited to the protection of the weak and vulnerable, but also include respect for the sanctity of life and the promotion of trust between patient and doctor in the care relationship.
Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing commented: 
“The view of these judges is one shared by Parliamentarians up and down the country, who have rejected any change to the law on assisted suicide since 2003 – on more than 10 separate occasions. This includes the historic vote in the House of Commons in 2015, which rejected changing the law by the huge majority of 330 to 118.

“Members of Parliament, just like every major doctors’ group and disability rights groups expressed concerns about public safety, the failure of safeguards in the small minority of countries that have assisted suicide or euthanasia and the discriminatory message removing universal protections, from the sick, elderly and dying would send.

“We hope the Supreme Court will recognise that the safest law is the one we have - a complete ban on assisted suicide and euthanasia. Importantly our laws treat everyone the same regardless of their age or disability, deterring the exploitation, abuse and coercion of vulnerable people. As we have seen in the US States of Oregon and Washington fear of becoming a financial, or care burden is cited by more than half of those choosing to end their lives.”
Dr Saunders concluded: 
“Worryingly it is not just in US where we have seen disturbing developments, once safeguards have been removed. In Holland and Belgium, a law introduced to alleviative the suffering of mentally competent adults is routinely used on non-mentally competent adults and even children. This why in this area the blanket ban is the right approach and we hope the Supreme Court will reaffirm this.”
For media inquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson on 07970 162225.


Notes for Editors

Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together around 50 organisations - human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups - and thousands of concerned individuals.

We have three key aims:

• to promote more and better palliative care;

• to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed during the lifetime of the current Parliament;

• to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.

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