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Dignity in Dying statement: Vote on Lord Falconer’s amendment

After a three hour, wide ranging debate, Lord Falconer’s narrow amendment on
accompanying loved ones abroad to die was defeated by a 58% majority.

Lesley Close, who
accompanied her brother abroad to die said:

“Whilst saddened that we didn’t win, I am encouraged by the 141 Peers who agree with me that the current legal mess is un
acceptable. Peers spoke eloquently against a wider change in the law, but didn’t address the problem that I and many others had to f
ace. Within safeguards to prevent against abuse, I don’t think I or others should f
ace the threat of 14 years in jail, for helping our loved ones
achieve the death they want.”

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“I am thankful that so many Peers, whether they voted for or against, engaged with this issue. A small majority do not agree with us and the wider public on this issue, but we will continue to fight for something that so many others feel very passionately about. We need to protect the vulnerable but we also need to allow mentally competent, terminally ill adults to make important life decisions for themselves.”


Notes to editors:

Result of the vote on Amendment 173 to the Coroners and Justice Bill:

141 Peers voted in favour of the amendment.

194 Peers voted against the amendment.

Amendment tabled by the Rt Hon the Lord Falconer:

Insert the following new Clause-
“Acts not capable of encouraging or assisting suicide
(1) An
act by an individual (“D”) is not to be treated as capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another adult (“T”) if-
(a) the
act is done solely or principally for the purpose of enabling or assisting T to travel to a country or territory in which assisted dying is lawful;
(b) prior to the
act, two registered medical pr
actitioners, independent of e
ach other, have certified that they are of the opinion in good faith that T is terminally ill and has the cap
acity to make the declaration under subsection (2); and
(c) prior to the
act, T has made a declaration under subsection (2).
(2) A declaration by T is made under this subsection if the declaration-
(a) is made freely in writing and is signed by T (or is otherwise recorded and authenticated if T is incapable of signing it),
(b) states that T-
(i) has read or been informed of the contents of the certificates under subsection (1)(b), and
(ii) has decided to travel to a country or territory falling within subsection (1)(a) for the purpose of obtaining assistance in dying, and
(c) is witnessed by an independent witness chosen by T.
(3) “Independent witness” means a person who is not-
(a) likely to obtain any benefit from the death of T; or
(b) a close relative or friend of T; or
(c) involved in caring for T.
(4) D is not to be treated as having done an
act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of T by virtue of being with T when, in a country or territory falling within subsection (1)(a), T takes steps (including steps taken with the assistance of D) to commit suicide by lawful means.”

Co-signed by:

The Rt Hon the Baroness Jay of Paddington

The Lord Lester QC

The Lord Low

Coroners and Justice Bill, relevant clauses:

Suicide (Clauses 49 to 51)

These clauses amend the Suicide Act 1961 with the aim of modernising and simplifying the law without changing its scope. This is in order make it clear that it is illegal to encourage suicide via the internet.

Dignity in Dying supports the Government’s efforts to better protect young and vulnerable people who may be encouraged to commit suicide by others, regardless of whether this is done via the internet or via other means. However, while we welcome these amendments on the condition of proper legislative scrutiny, we are extremely concerned that these amendments fail to address a wider problem with the law, which is that at present (and as proposed) the law fails to distinguish between those who assist and/or encouraging suicide and those who assist the death of a terminally ill, mentally competent adult who feels their suffering has become unbearable.

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.

Media Cont

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Jo Cartwright on 02074797737 / 07725433025 or at