Life is under attack

THOSE who aid in the assisted suicide of a loved are less likely to face criminal proceedings under new guidelines published by England’s chief prosecutor today.

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), this morning outlined the circumstances in which those involved with assisted suicide will avoid facing legal action. Under his recommendations state prosecution will be less likely now if someone accused of assisting in a suicide is found to have been ‘wholly motivated by compassion’.

The news comes just the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned against the legalisation of assisted suicide.

The Prime Minister took the stance in a column in a national newspaper.

“Let us be clear: death as an option and an entitlement, via whatever bureucratic processes a change in the law on assisted suicide might devise, would fundamentally change the way we think about death,” he said.

“The risk of pressures—however subtle—on the frail and vulnerable, who may for example feel their existences burdensome to others, cannot ever be entirely excluded.”

He added that: “I believe that because of the clarification of the public interest factors now being discussed, and because of some important developments in care over recent decades, the case for a change in the law is now weaker.”

The Care Not Killing Alliance praised the Prime Minister’s appeal urging people to ‘resist the call to legalise assisted suicide’.

“This is a brave step and it is vital that we take this opportunity to demonstrate that Gordon Brown is not in the minority with this view,” the alliance said in a statement.

However this morning’s developments clearly show that danger remains and that the legal and moral debate over the right of people to help their friends or relatives to die may be gaining ground.

Here is in Scotland we are even closer to formally legalising assisted suicide than the rest of the Britain. Margo MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance Bill it at the committee stage in the Scottish Parliament.


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