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‘We are still exporting a problem abroad or condoning suicides behind closed doors’

25 September 2009

Today, and in light of the Director of Public Prosecution’s guidelines on assisted suicide, Dignity in Dying backed the MS Society’s call for a Royal Commission on the issue of assisted dying. Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“Whilst the guidelines set out by the DPP are helpful, they only partially resolve the problem. They clarify the law for the individual, but they do not provide a safeguarded means of assisted dying. We shouldn’t be relying on the threat of retrospective prosecution to stop abuse – we need clearly defined criteria and up-front safeguards. But, this is something only Parliament can provide.

“The law needs to change. Otherwise we are still exporting a problem abroad or condoning suicides behind closed doors. In light of Parliament’s reluctance to address this issue, we back the MS Society’s call for the Government to establish a Royal Commission on a change in the law on assisted dying.

“The debate on this contentious issue needs to be guided by fact and reason, not fear. A Commission would look into the scale of the problem and examine the evidence from countries and States in the US that have introduced assisted dying legislation. If it did, we are confident that it would support our call for a change in the law.”


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Dignity in Dying spokesperson please contact James Harris on 020 7479 7739 / 07725 433025.

The MS Society’s press release can be read at:

About Dignity in Dying:

– Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
– Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
– Surveys consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.