Whilst writing my recent post on the value of disabled lives, I became aware of The Assisted Dying Bill currently passing through parliament. I asked Molly Pike of Dignity in Dying how I could help it become law. “Essentially It needs enough time, and parliamentary support. According to our records, your MP is a possible supporter” she explained, “would you send him an email to ask for his support and set up a meeting with them?” My heart sank.
There is already a massive disconnect between our Government and ordinary voters. The electoral system is dysfunctional and unrepresentative and both need to be totally overhauled. But for the moment, power flows through Westminster and any new law needs the support of the Government and public support. It’s called ‘lobbying’.
My MP is Robert Courts, Conservative Member of Parliament for Witney since 2017 . I have met him a few times and he has always been generous, helpful and supportive of me and my voluntary work. He supported the nomination for my MBE. He works hard in our constituency, but disappointingly for me, he always votes with the Conservative Government.
However, Assisted Dying is currently a cross-party issue, with support on both sides of both Houses and we all have the right to ask our MPs to represent us in Parliament. If it would bring real change for dying people and help me one day, I can put my own political views to one side.
From: Richard Brown MBE
Sent: 16 April 2022 12:38
To: Robert Courts email@example.com
Subject: Please Support Dignity In Dying
I am writing to you, as one of your constituents, about assisted dying. This is something I care deeply about and wondered if you could confirm your view on this issue.
I have Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative and as yet, incurable neurological condition. As with many neurological disorders, each person’s progression is different, but I accept that I will reach a point at which I will enter a final decline. I want to be in control and avoid a painful and undignified end. I was alarmed to learn that the current law does not work for dying people. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assisting a suicide is a crime. Those convicted could face up to 14 years in prison. Most importantly, it is unlawful for medical professionals here to assist. Forcing people to travel abroad and pay thousands of pounds for a dignified death is cruel and wrong.
Dying People (with 6 months or less to live) rightly deserve the support to take the final act to bring a peaceful end to their lives at home. 84% of the British public support the legalisation of assisted dying and so do 86% of disabled people. The British Medical Association recently made the decision to go neutral on assisted dying in September, after their survey of doctors found the majority wanted them to drop their opposition. I hope you’ll agree that now is the right time to give this crucial human rights issue time for debate in the Commons.
Momentum is building for the legalisation of assisted dying. Change is in the air with the success of Baroness Meacher’s Bill passing its second reading in the House of Lords in October and an assisted dying proposition was approved overwhelmingly by the Jersey’s States Assembly in November. Scotland’s public consultation ended in December and received an overwhelming response, and Ireland’s government is launching a special committee to investigate the issue in the coming months.
Do you agree that our current law isn’t working for dying people? Would you support calls for further evidence or a debate in the House of Commons?
Richard Brown MBE
Ataxia UK Ambassador