Assisted Dying Coalition launches

MDMD is delighted with the launch of a formal coalition of like-minded organisations campaigning in the UK and crown dependencies for a change in the law on assisted dying. The Assisted Dying Coalition (ADC) is a forum that meets regularly and shares information and approaches on right-to-die campaigning.

For many years MDMD has worked closely with Friends At The End, (FATE), most notably in holding joint 6 monthly meetings in London. Our links with Humanists UK on right-to-die campaign issues have deepened considerably over the past 2 years. Since the idea of a coalition between like-minded campaign groups was first mooted, Humanist Society of Scotland and the recently formed End of Life Choices Jersey have joined us.

Each of the member organisations maintains its own identity and particular focus, along geographic and/or religious-inclusion lines, but on matters that we have in common, relating to our assisted dying campaign work we will be working increasingly collaboratively, sharing our expertise and information, and maximising the power of our collective supporter base.

Membership of the ADC is open to campaign organisations and lobby groups who share the same right-to-die campaign goals: for individuals who are terminally ill or facing incurable suffering and who have a clear and settled wish to end their life.

As part of its launch activities the ADC published research which reveals that since the Marris Bill on assisted dying was rejected by the House of Commons in September 2015 more than 1 person per week from the UK has ended their life in Switzerland. The figures also reveal that almost 1,500 UK citizens have a paid membership with an assisted dying organisation in Switzerland. This highlights how desperate many people feel about how the law and medical practice in this country fail to respect their end of life wishes.

Responding to these figures Assisted Dying Coalition Chair Carrie Hynds, (who is also a director of MDMD), said: “It is disgraceful that in the last few years alone, 233 people have been forced to make that agonising journey abroad, far from their family and friends, to have an assisted death. The various legislatures in these isles might want to wait, but it is too late for those who have already faced this injustice.”

“As a Coalition, we will be working to ensure that people have the individual autonomy to make their own decisions about their end of life choices. Several countries including Canada, Luxembourg, and Switzerland all have assisted dying laws in place which give dignity to people in dying. The UK and crown dependencies must follow in the footsteps of these countries while also implementing strong legal safeguards that protect all individuals.”

Phil Cheatle, MDMD’s campaign policy director said: “It is simply not acceptable for doctors to defer the decision on assisted dying to politicians, only for politicians to reject it, at least in part, because “doctors don’t support it”. The ADC will be pressing for a more joined up response. Medical organisations and politicians must work together to respond to the public clamour for more compassionate, dignified end of life options, which include medical assistance to die when there are no acceptable alternatives.”