Pro-life groups have welcomed the defeat in the House of Lords of an ‘underhand’ move to introduce assisted suicide legislation.
Lord Forsyth, a former Tory Minister who is campaigning for ‘assisted dying’, had lodged an amendment to the Health and Care Bill to force UK Ministers to bring forward a bill. However, Peers voted down the move by a margin of 179 votes to 145 at Report stage.
Ross Hendry, CEO of Christian charity CARE, welcomed the news.
“The attempt to amend the Health and Care Bill in such a profound way was highly cynical in two respects. First, it sought to use vital health and care proposals as a Trojan horse. And second, it sought to force the government’s hand on a highly contentious matter that should rightly be left to parliament,” he said.
“Campaigners are seeking to exclude important voices from this debate – particularly disabled groups, the elderly, and those experiencing terminal illness. And they are evading clear evidence about the dangers of ‘assisted dying’, shown clearly in other jurisdictions.
“Unsafe and unethical interventions are not the answer. The prescription of lethal drugs is not a moral response to suffering, and permitting it would undermine the safety, dignity, and equality of many groups.
“Evidence shows that these practices place invisible pressure on sick and vulnerable people, that ‘safeguards’ are ineffective, and that laws are inevitably widened over time. We must not open the door to them in the UK.”
Labour peer Lord Howarth of Newport spoke out against the amendment.
“The moral anarchy that lurks in this new clause is that it would legitimise in a new way the taking of human life by other human beings,” he said. “I profoundly believe…that legislation to permit assisted suicide would create more suffering than it would alleviate.”
Right To Life responded enthusiastically to the ‘brilliant news.’ “This will be a major upset for the assisted suicide lobby who were expecting to win the vote,” Catherine Robinson from the pro-life group said.
“The defeat of this Bill is excellent news for those who recognise the danger assisted suicide poses to people who are disabled and vulnerable. Critics were absolutely right to point out that it was an attempt to hijack an entirely unrelated Bill, and force the Government to debate an issue which had never been part of their manifesto”.
SPUC welcomed the news as a ‘great relief’. “Trying to force the Government to legislate on a controversial issue like this was completely improper, and it is good that Peers recognised this,” they said.
Lord Falconer, who attempted to legalise euthanasia in 2013 by proposing an Assisted Dying Bill for people with less than six months to live, spoke in favour of Lord Forsyth’s amendment on the grounds that ‘parliament should properly address issues of conscience.’ “What we need is proper parliamentary time for the parliamentarians to address the issue,” he said.
Right To Life warned that this will not be the final word on the ongoing debate, noting that ‘the assisted suicide lobby will be back soon with their next attempt to introduce assisted suicide.’
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