Invicta News

Read all about it

Feature International On this day

New Zealand legalises assisted dying. Why can’t the UK?

Campaigners outside the royal courts in 2019. Rob Shothard / Getty

New Zealand has become the most recent country to legalise euthanasia, after 65% of the population voted to allow the procedure to take place for those with a terminal illness.

The support for assisted dying around the world has become much stronger in recent years, with liberal nations like Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada all passing such bills which allow those with terminal illnesses to choose to end their life to avoid further pain.

Organisations like Dignity in Dying and the Assisted Dying Coalition have campaigned to do exactly that in the UK for many years, with DiD being founded in 1935.

The UK government has consistently voted against the idea of legalising assisted dying, essentially forcing people in that situation to either travel to nations like Switzerland at a very high monetary and emotional cost or to suffer in their final months of life.

Even now, families who helped their loved ones travel to Switzerland face the uncertainty of criminal prosecution when they return, making the decision even more difficult.

Whilst no one has been prosecuted for helping their loved ones travel to Switzerland, who’s to say that one family may face consequences that another family did not.

The fact that the Crown Prosecution Service would consider filing charges against a person who is in immense emotional pain about the death of their loved one is frankly inhumane.

New Zealand has often been the best-case scenario for what the UK could become. A competent and compassionate leader in Jacinda Ardern. A suitable coronavirus response where people respect the rules.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been afforded the same luxuries. Instead we have a government who don’t seemed to be fully focused on the pandemic, or the fact that Brexit still hasn’t been dealt with.

They may use these quite valid excuses to not pass legislation on a number of vital topics, including an assisted dying bill, but the fact of the matter is that the pandemic has only made it harder for those with terminal illnesses.

Many may have lost their access to their carers, and even more would have been restricted from having visitors, meaning little to no access for loved ones.

Former Conservative MP Nick Boles, a fervent supporter of an assisted dying bill, said “It is time to have a change in the law which would give people the right to organise a good manner of their own passing when it suited them and give them that modicum of control.”

An assisted dying bill has never been given a proper chance in the UK. Lord Falconer tried in 2014 and didn’t work. Labour MP Rob Marris tried in 2015, but was defeated by 118 votes to 330. Lord Hayward, a Conservative peer, tried again in 2016, but that did not get through its first reading.

If anyone does want to end their own life on their own terms, they often have to turn to Switzerland, which creates an enormous emotional and financial toll on any family or individual.

Dignity in Dying estimates that one British person travels to Dignitas every 8 days. It costs on average £10,000 for a person to end their own life at the Swiss clinic, including flights, care and the actual procedure.

If the UK government would legalise assisted dying, it would bring great relief to those with family members who are suffering with terminal illnesses and provide an outlet for those who are suffering and nearing the end of their life.

It may take a while for the UK to become as progressive with their legislation as New Zealand, but an assisted dying bill would be a great and welcome start.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *