Reform assisted dying laws

Reform assisted dying laws

Decisions over assisted dying should be based on autonomy and medical ethics, not religious dogma.

We support patient autonomy and work to protect patients from the imposition of other people's personal religious views.

There is widespread support amongst the public for a compassionate law that permits assisted dying under certain circumstances.

But religious lobbying exerts a disproportionate influence on the debate on assisted dying, frustrating much-needed reform.

Assisted dying (AD) is when a person chooses to be given help to die, usually because they are terminally ill and suffering unbearably.

AD is legal in a growing number of countries around the world. In all these jurisdictions there are strict guidelines and safeguards to ensure AD is not misused. Where AD is an option, it complements palliative care rather than replacing it.

AD is not explicitly legal anywhere in the UK. Terminally ill people who wish to end their suffering more quickly have very few options.

Travelling to a country where their death can be assisted legally isn't a viable option for most, due to the high expense and the difficulties in travelling with a terminal illness. What's more, friends and relatives who accompany or help someone travel abroad for AD may be prosecuted.

Terminally ill people in the UK may therefore resort to taking their own life, leading to botched suicides, or asking the help of loved ones. This puts friends and relatives in a horrendous position: either they must watch their loved one suffer, or they must help them die and risk jail in the process.

The largest poll ever conducted on assisted dying found 84% of people in Britain support a change in the law. This includes 82% of Christians and 90% of nonreligious people.

Many regard refusing people a final relief from unbearable suffering as a harmful act. But strong opposition to AD comes from religious leaders who think AD goes against the will of their gods.

We support the democratic right of all people to contribute to the debate on AD. But policy decisions should be guided by evidence, compassion and respect for the principle of patient autonomy, rather than religious dogma. The views of the general public, professionals and relevant organisations should be fairly reflected at policy level.

Within the National Secular Society, individual members hold a range of views about AD. All are agreed that religious privilege should have no place in the decision-making process.

Take action!

1. Write to your MP

Ask your MP to support properly regulated assisted dying.

2. Share your story

Tell us why you support this campaign, and how you are personally affected by the issue. You can also let us know if you would like assistance with a particular issue.

3. Join the National Secular Society

Become a member of the National Secular Society today! Together, we can separate religion and state for greater freedom and fairness.

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Angela Hampton Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

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MPs debate reforming assisted dying laws amid religious opposition

MPs debate reforming assisted dying laws amid religious opposition

Posted: Tue, 30 Apr 2024 16:49

MP asks why "people be denied a choice" because of the "religious convictions of others"

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