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Writing to your MP

Tips on what to write

  • Tell them you live in their constituency and include your address. Many MPs won’t respond to letters from people who aren’t their constituents.
  • Say you are writing to request a meeting to discuss the law on assisted dying.
  • Be clear about what we’re campaigning for. An assisted dying law would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request life-ending medication from a doctor, which the patient would self-administer at a time they chose.
  • Explain why assisted dying matters so much to you. If you are living with a terminal illness, or someone close to you wanted the choice of an assisted death, do share this, if you feel comfortable.
  • Include some facts, stories and examples to support your argument. We’ve included some key points below – choose the ones you feel are most persuasive.
  • Mention Dignity in Dying and link to more information or personal stories on our website.
  • Tell them you look forward to receiving their reply and thank them for reading your message.

Facts, statistics and personal stories

Below are some points for you to use when writing to your MP. Don’t feel you need to include all of these points – just choose the ones that you feel are most persuasive.

What we’re talking about:

  • An assisted dying law would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to request life-ending medication from a doctor, which the patient would self-administer at a time of their own choosing.
  • Above all, subject to strict upfront safeguards as assessed by two doctors, it will give dying adults peace of mind that the choice of assisted dying is available if their suffering becomes too great for them in their final months of life.
  • Assisted dying legislation would result in fewer dying adults – and their families – facing unnecessary suffering at the end of their lives.
  • Dying people deserve choice and control at the end of their life.

Why the current law is broken and doesn’t protect people:

  • Every 8 days someone from the UK travels to Dignitas for help to die, and prosecutors are turning a blind eye.
  • Many more dying people cannot afford the huge financial (average £10,000) and emotional costs to travel abroad and are taking their own lives in the UK out of desperation – often in very distressing circumstances.
  • Recent YouGov polling shows that two-thirds of Britons would consider helping a loved one (who had a terminal illness and who’d expressed a wish to have an assisted death) to travel to Switzerland for an assisted death.
  • The current law on assisted suicide doesn’t protect vulnerable people, as cases are only investigated after someone has died.
  • The current law prohibits dying people discussing their end-of-life wishes with their doctors, meaning professionals have little awareness if someone is going to end their life at home or abroad, or indeed if they are vulnerable.
  • For more on this, see the True Cost Report.

About Noel Conway’s legal challenge:

  • Noel Conway – a 68-year-old man from Shropshire – is suffering from incurable terminal motor neurone disease and has less than 12 months to live.
  • He is calling for a judicial review on the grounds that the current laws contained in the Suicide Act 1961 are incompatible with his basic rights – to be able to die with dignity.
  • Noel’s case was heard before the High Court in July 2017, and again before the Court of Appeal in May 2018. Judges in both courts stated that they did have the authority to make a declaration, however in this case both courts ruled against Conway.
  • Dignity in Dying is supporting Noel Conway and his lawyers to appeal the Court of Appeal ruling. His case may be heard at the Supreme Court towards the end of 2018 or spring 2019.

How assisted dying laws work well in the USA:

  • In 20 years in Oregon, evidence shows no sign of the law widening, (so called ‘slippery slope’).
  • End of life care has improved in Oregon as a result.
  • There have been no signs of people abusing the law in 20 years – and the number of deaths has stayed at a steady 0.3% of all deaths – Oregon Report 2016
  • Many more dying people take comfort knowing the option is there, even if they don’t use it.
  • Assisted dying legislation exists now in seven states in America and in Canada. Recently Victoria, Australia, has brought in a law based on Oregon’s.

How assisted dying relates to palliative care:

  • Assisted dying is not an alternative to palliative care, but an option within good end of life care that some will choose to take.
  • Evidence shows that even the best palliative care cannot and does not relieve all suffering.
  • Evidence from Oregon shows that palliative care improved when assisted dying legislation was introduced.