Negotiating Death: Assisted Dying Could be Legal in the UK Within Four Years, Claims MP

Assisted dying remains a highly debated issue, despite being a lawful activity in certain parts of the world, and involves many legal, ethical, medical, sociocultural, personal, and religious issues.

A leading Tory MP claims that amid growing support among parliamentarians for a change in the law regarding assisted dying, the right to make such a choice at the end of life could be legalised in the UK within four years, reports Sky News.

While previously the British parliament had always voted against granting people in the country the right to an assisted death in any form, MP Andrew Mitchell believes attitudes have changed, so much so, that a change might be coming already within this parliamentary term.

‘Minds Are Changing’

Having recently taken on the role of co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for choice at the end of life, a cross-party group of members of the British Parliament and Peers that supports better end-of-life options, including assisted dying, Mitchell acknowledged that “minds are changing” on this very controversial and sensitive issue.

“I was, as a student and as a young MP, adamantly opposed to assisted dying and over the years my view has changed completely. We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change. We are looking for very, very tight reform,” says the Tory parliamentarian.

According to Mitchell, the decision would need to be steeped in a great many “safeguards”.

“I think that given the very limited nature of these proposals; that it would be for someone who is within six months of the end of their life, with very strong safeguards, the decision being made by a High Court judge, by two doctors – I think those limited proposals may command the support of parliament in the next four years,” said Andrew Mitchell.

Tight Legislation

For all opposed to any change on the issue and fearing the implications and potential risks, Mitchell insists:

“I want legislation that is absolutely clear… People who fear the thin end of the wedge, slippery slope argument can be reassured on this count: that once parliament passes a very limited law, they would have to go back to parliament to get that law changed.

According to the MP, the new legislation would have to be “tight and clear”, and agreed upon by MPs.

“Members of the House of Commons don’t want there to be a slippery slope on this legislation either,” says Mitchell.

According to the MP for Sutton Coldfield, his own stance on the issue underwent a radical change after hearing from several constituents who witnessed family members undergo extreme suffering at the end of their lives.

Over recent years, a succession of legal challenges pertaining to allowing assisted dying have been unsuccessful.

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