Thursday, 12 November 2009

Assisted Suicide Policy Consultation - Take Action!

Have your say on assisted suicide guidelines

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has issued guidelines clarifying the issues that will be taken into account when deciding whether or not to consent to the prosecution of individuals who assist someone to die, including when people have accompanied loved ones abroad for an assisted death.

These issues are now open for a public consultation period that ends on 16th December.

Why we need these guidelines

Assisted dying for terminally ill people remains a criminal offence in the UK and the decision whether to prosecute currently rests with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). At present, it is not clear on what basis the DPP will decide whether or not to support a prosecution. This ambiguity places further and unnecessary pressure on those suffering from severe and terminal illnesses or conditions, and their loved ones.

Background

  • The guidelines are being prepared as a result of the prominent case of Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer, who recently won her case in the UK’s highest court. The judgement required that the DPP publish clear guidance, showing when it would or would not prosecute someone for assisting someone to die.
  • This is not a change in the law; assisted dying remains illegal. However this does represent a significant, and positive change to the present situation.
  • The law at present is fundamentally flawed; it does not make a distinction between those who maliciously encourage suicide and those who compassionately accompany a loved one abroad to die in a country where assisted dying is legal.

Why your views matter

It is vital that the consultation receives an accurate and representative view on the subject of assisted dying. Most importantly, the principle that guidelines are required should be positively acknowledged.

It is really important that as many people as possible who are in favour of having clear guidelines on this issue respond to the consultation. We know that anti-choice groups will be responding to this consultation and it would be very negative should their minority view have a disproportionate influence on the outcome of this consultation.

Here’s what you can do

Please visit the Crown Prosecution website to participate in the consultation. http://www.cps.gov.uk/consultations/as_index.html

The consultation consists of nine questions listing a number of factors in favour of a prosecution and against. It gives respondents the opportunity to agree or disagree with their inclusion, weight them in accordance with priority, and offer further suggestions.

Once you have completed the consultation form, please e-mail your response to assistedsuicide.consultation@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively, send your printed and completed form to:

Assisted Suicide Policy Team

Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters - 6th floor

50 Ludgate Hill

London

EC4M 7EX

You many also be interested in this blog http://dignityindying.blogspot.com/ or their website http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/