• Assisted Dying Bill rejected with 330 votes against
  • Denied right-to-die fosters “Suicide Tourism”
  • Californian “End of Life Option Act” approved
  • Where Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are legal

On the 11th of September 2015, the UK’s House of Commons has been called to vote on the thorny issue of the right to die. The plan was brought before the Commons by the Labour MP Rob Marris, in the first vote on the issue after almost twenty years. The proposals of the Bill meant to allow some terminally ill adults to end their lives under medical supervision: they have been rejected, with 330 MPs against (the 74%) and 118 in favour of them. Previously, a poll by pressure group Dignity is Dying claimed 82% of people backed the change in the law.

Rob Marris | Alex Latham

Rob Marris | Alex Latham

Under this plan, people with less than six months to live could have been prescribed a lethal dose of drugs, to be taken by themselves under the approval of two doctors and a High Court judge.

The debate has been under the spotlight for years, but the outcome didn’t differ that much from the vote in 1997, when 234 MPs (the 72%) voted against and 89 in favour.

Euthanasia  is illegal in the UK: it is considered murder or manslaughter, as well as the offense to encourage or assist a suicide or a suicide attempt since the Suicide Act of 1961.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying  | Dignity is Dying Flickr Account

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying | Dignity is Dying

This reiteration in denying the claimed right to die, as in UK as abroad, opened to the so-called “Suicide or Euthanasia Tourism“, which is the practice of flying to countries where an assisted death is legal. The loudest case of this trend is represented by the Swiss Dignitaswhich defines itself a “self-determination, autonomy and dignity advocacy group”.

The statistics, released by Dignitas on its own website, show that, until 2014, at least 1905 people found the death under their supervision, of whom, among the others: 920 German, 273 British, 194 French, 156 Swiss, 79 Italian and 39 Austrian. Their mission is clear:

DIGNITAS advocates, educates and supports for improving care and choice in life and at life’s end. Since 1998 we work for the worldwide implementation of ‘the last human right’.

Clamorous was the 2009 case of Ms. Debbie Purdy, a British woman with multiple sclerosis who, wondering whether her husband would have been persecuted if he had led her to Switzerland at Dignitas, pushed Five Law Lord to rule that the Director of Public Prosecutions must specify when a person might face prosecution. New guidelines on the issue were published on the 25th of February 2010. But Ms Purdy’s condition deteriorated significantly and she was unable to go through with her plan to travel to Switzerland. She died on the 23rd of December 2014 at the Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford, her hometown.

Nevertheless, the dispute on the right to die has never been as topical as now. Surprisingly, exactly the same date of the vote in the UK, on Friday the 11th of September 2015, the State Senate of California, USA, approved a bill which truly recalls the UK’s one. Under the “End of Life Option Act,” patients with six months or less to live would have the option of authorizing a doctor to administer fatal doses of medicine. The last step is represented just by  Gov. Jerry Brown, who has 12 days to sign or veto the bill before it automatically goes into effect in January.

Governor of California Jerry Brown | Neon Tommy

Governor of California Jerry Brown | Neon Tommy

Nowadays euthanasia, which is the act of deliberately ending a person’s life to relieve suffering, is legal only in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Colombia; in Mexico and India only passive euthanasia is considered legal, as the practice of withdrawing life support in patients who are in a permanent vegetative state. The Assisted Suicide, that is the act of deliberately assisting or encouraging another person to kill themselves, is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana.

What do you think about?

Share and tell us your opinion #RGNN #Gobernanza