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Dignity in Dying comments on the forthcoming publication of legal guidelines on assisted suicide

This Wednesday (23 September) the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will publish guidelines on the assisted suicide law. The policy will clarify when people are likely to be prosecuted. Commenting ahead of the publication, Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“In light of the number of Britons who are being assisted to die both at home and abroad, we welcome the forthcoming publication of the DPP’s prosecuting policy. People have the right to know whether their actions are or are not legal.

“Times have changed since the 1961 Suicide Act was introduced, the vast majority of us do not think that somebody should be prosecuted for assisting a loved one to die at their request when their suffering has become unbearable. The law has always given the DPP discretion over whether to prosecute individual assisted suicide cases. So the publication of this policy will not change the law, but it will clarify when prosecutions will and won’t be brought. Dignity in Dying expects the criteria to more clearly distinguish between compassionate and malicious acts and in doing so better reflect public opinion and provide a clearer deterrent against abuse. This will represent a significant breakthrough in our campaign for greater choice and control at the end of life.”

– Ends –

Further information:

The current law:
– Assisting a suicide is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment in England and Wales
– Section 2 (1) of the 1961 Suicide Act states: A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide, shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years
– Section 2 (4) of the 1961 Suicide Act states: No proceedings shall be instituted for an offence under this section except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions
– To date no one who has accompanied a loved one to Dignitas has been prosecuted. However, people have been questioned by the Police and threatened with prosecution.

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.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Sarah Wootton please call 07725433025.