Cameron’s new health minister criticises right-to-die laws
One of David Cameron’s new Health Ministers has criticised right-to-die laws in her first interview as Under-Secretary of State for Health.
Speaking to The Times, Minister Anna Soubry said: “I think it’s ridiculous and appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life instead of being able to end their life at home.”
Whilst she was maintained: “You can’t say to a doctor or a nurse you can kill this person,” she argued “you have a right to kill yourself”.
Assisted suicide carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years, although, out of the 60 cases referred to prosecutors by the police, nine were withdrawn, 42 never went to trial and the remaining have ongoing inquires. Due to this relatively low prosecution rate, Soubry called for more public “honesty” over what happens to families implicated over the offence.
Critics of legalising the right-to-die argue that allowing euthanasia could create a slippery-slope effect where, rather than a greater effort being made to provide care to improve living conditions, severely disabled people would feel pressured to end their lives. It is argued an increase in palliative care and medical treatment focused on relieving symptoms such as pain, as opposed to treatment focused on extending life span, would prevent most patients from initially wanting to die.
The right-to-die laws are now very much in the public consciousness, after Tony Nicklinson’s recent death. Nicklinson petitioned to die after a long struggle with severely debilitating locked-in syndrome. He died a week after loosing his bid, having argued that he wanted to die with dignity and on his own time, yet could not physically take his own life. His wife Jane is continuing to appeal his case after saying: “Nobody should have to suffer like Tony did.”