Assisted dying - October 2021

Dear constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about the issue of assisted dying.

In order to change the law on assisted dying, it would be necessary for a backbench MP to introduce a Bill and then have sufficient support for the law to change. At present, there are no legislative plans to change the law but it is possible that Parliament will once again be asked to consider this issue at some point in the near future.

There was last a vote in 2015 seeking a change in the law and this was rejected in the House of Commons by 330 votes to 118. I voted against making a change in the law.

Coping with terminal illness is distressing and difficult both for the patient and their families. The issue of whether to permit assisted dying is an extremely difficult one with a variety of competing views.

This is an important issue and we must continue to consider the issues surrounding assisted dying and look at the societal as well as the individual perspectives which arise. On the last occasion, the parameters provided in the Bill for enabling assisted dying were drawn tightly and would have affected only a very limited number of cases. A strong case was being made on grounds of humanity to permit this to pass. I believe that terminally ill patients should receive the highest quality palliative support and that those patients, and their families, should be certain that their end-of-life care will meet all of their needs.

However, I saw this issue in a wider context. Our judgement on this measure should be based on the principle, not on the presented boundaries for the application of that principle. On this basis, I was quite troubled by the proposal to make a change in the law that would have given official sanction to suicide in certain circumstances. The arguments from the medical profession and from those presenting ethical points of view weighed heavily with me. It is for these reasons that I decided to vote against the Bill in 2015.

If Parliament is asked to make future changes to the law on assisted dying at a future date, I absolutely commit to listening to all sides of the argument and keeping this difficult issue under review.

Many thanks for getting in touch.

Yours sincerely,

richard fuller

Richard Fuller MP