With Keir Starmer in 10 Downing Street, assisted dying is on the way in the UK

The United Kingdom’s new Labour government has a long to-do list. A dysfunctional National Health Service. An economy in the doldrums. Net zero. A prisons crisis. Ukraine. Gaza. Relations with Europe. Immigration. The cost of living.

But so far the media has overlooked an incendiary issue: assisted dying.

After decades of vigorous lobbying, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be back in Parliament very soon – with a good chance of winning.

The new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, has been a strong supporter of assisted dying. As recently as March, he promised to debate and vote upon a law to allow doctors to help people choose death. He has promised that MPs will be able to vote according to their consciences.

In a phone call to TV presenter and assisted dying campaigner Dame Esther Rantzen, Sir Keir said that he was “personally in favour of changing the law”. “I think we need to make time. We will make the commitment. Esther, I can give you that commitment right now.”

The defeated Conservative prime minister, Rishi Sunak, also said that he was personally in favour. “I’m not against it in principle. It’s just a question of having the safeguards in place and that’s where people have had questions in the past,” he said a few weeks ago.

The last time assisted dying came to a vote in the House of Commons was in 2015. A private members’ bill was defeated, by 330 votes to 118. Starmer was one of its most prominent supporters.

At present, assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. (Scotland has a different legal system, in which there is no specific offence of assisted suicide. However, euthanasia is illegal and could be prosecuted as murder or culpable homicide.)

Support seems to have been growing.  A petition to Parliament by Dignity in Dying, a UK lobby group for assisted dying, secured more than 200,000 signatures.

Sir Keir served as the UK’s director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013. In the 2015 debate in Parliament, he said that he had overseen around 80 assisted dying cases – and in 79 of them, he had refused to lay any charges.

He had set down guidelines for determining whether people should be prosecuted for assisting suicides. “The first was that the criminal law should rarely, if ever, be used against those who compassionately assist loved ones to die at their request, so long as that person had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to end their life,” he told MPs. “The second was that very strong safeguards are needed to protect those who might be pressurised in any number of subtle ways. Those who encourage the death of the vulnerable should feel the full force of the law.”



Join Mercator today for free and get our latest news and analysis

Buck internet censorship and get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox. It's free and your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell your personal data.

It will be interesting to see what these “very strong safeguards” will be. In Canada, which has more euthanasia deaths than any other country, safeguards have not stopped abuses from happening. People without social support have applied for euthanasia because they are lonely. Bureaucrats have told veterans who cannot afford medical care to apply for euthanasia. People without a terminal illness can apply for euthanasia. People with mental illness will be able to apply for euthanasia soon.

As a result, only eight years after “medical assistance in dying” was legalised, it accounts for more than 4 percent of all deaths in Canada. The numbers rise every year. As in other jurisdictions where “assisted dying” has been legalised, the bureaucrats who run the schemes think that the more people who die, the better.

In his first address as Prime Minister, delivered a few hours ago, Sir Keir said that “your government should treat every single person in this country with respect”.

The legalisation of assisted dying threatens to undermine this promise.

Back in 2015, former MP Nadine Dorries, a nurse, responded to Sir Keir’s words in support of assisted dying with stories from her personal experience. She concluded:

“There are people all over the country who do not have a family member or relative as their next of kin. They do not have loved ones. For them, the next of kin is the state. It sends a shiver of fear down my spine to think that such a Bill might be legislated for and approved when so many people who are protected by the law may not have such protection in future because their next of kin is the state. When they feel that they are a burden or they feel under pressure, who will coerce them and who will feel the budgetary constraints involved in looking after them?”

Assisted dying is championed by the worried well and wealthy. It is the despairing sick and poor who will pay the price. 

Will the UK legalised “assisted dying” soon? 

Michael Cook is editor of Mercator

Image credit: Sir Keir Starmer in Parliament late last year, as Opposition Leader / flicker House of Commons 


Showing 4 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-08 18:00:40 +1000
    Following the surprise relative victory of the union of the left in the second round of the french elections yesterday, their supporters started violent riots in Paris and other french cities.

    After they won!

    Demonstrators have been observed shouting hateful threats against the party of Mrs Le Pen.

    Looks like a civil war is in the making in France.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-07-08 15:49:13 +1000
    Breakdown Britain, breakdown Europe, breakdown the West.

    It is getting worse every year. And it is done by our peoples, or to be specific their voting majorities and the governments they put into power.

    Signs of decay everywhere. But nobody is concerned about the slow moving landslide.

    And our sins against Christ the King, against innocent babies and against our neighbors may bring the wrath of God upon us: the landslide may suddenly move faster. God will allow all the things that come with it. Furthermore, our internal weakness will be shown to the world, may invite external enemies.

    God punishes the collective. So get prepared.
  • mrscracker
    Euthanasia is not only championed by the well and wealthy, the lobbying movement is funded by them.
  • Michael Cook
    published this page in The Latest 2024-07-06 22:58:41 +1000