UK could legalise assisted dying ‘within four years’ due to ‘growing support’
Assisted dying could be legalised in the UK within the next four years, a leading MP has predicted.
Helping a loved one end their own life could be legal in Britain by the end of 2024 if the politician reviewing the law is correct.
Andrew Mitchell, the new co-chair of a panel looking into whether the rules should change, told Sky News there is growing support for assisted suicide from MPs.
Proposed changes to allow assisted dying have consistently been voted down in Parliament but Mr Mitchell said “tight reform” could be introduced before 2025.
He told Sky: “We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change. We are looking for very, very tight reform.
“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.”
Critics of assisted dying fear the law could be expanded to give people with mental illnesses and other conditions the right to choose to die.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, where it is legal, increasing numbers of people have chosen to die – including some without a terminal illness.
But Mr Mitchell said: “People who fear the thin end of the wedge, slippery slope argument can be reassured and they 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.
“The legislation would be tight, it would be clear and it would be agreed by MPs. Members of the House of Commons don’t want there to be a slippery slope on this legislation either.”
Previous cases for assisted dying have been taken as far as the High Court.
The most recent was Phil Newby, from Rutland in East Midlands, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at just 43-years-old.
He campaigned for the right to die on his own terms but his case was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
He said previously: “I'm reconciled to the fact that my life is going to be foreshortened by a large amount, but I think part of living a good life is not living in fear – and living in fear of a long, drawn out, unpleasant, horrible death is taking away a good quality of life.
"It's quite clear they're closing the door on this issue almost totally.
“It's a calamity for people in a certain situation.”
Assisted suicide is legal in some European countries, including Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
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