Ban on assisted dying undermines end-of-life care in Wales, suggests My Death, My Decision

Credit: National Assembly for Wales,

My Death, My Decision has responded to a consultation on the future of justice in Wales by calling for assisted dying to be devolved – in order to unify Wales’ end-of-life care under one administration. My Death, My Decision hopes that this consultation will ignite the Welsh Parliament to set a national standard by reforming the law on assisted dying, as it has previously done on issues such as organ donation. 

In their response to Making Justice work in Wales, a consultation to identify areas of concern and further justice issues for devolution, My Death, My Decision said that, just like palliative care, assisted dying should be seen as one choice on a spectrum of end-of-life options, and that it is ‘plainly illogical’ when Wales already has authority over palliative care for it not to be able to decide its own law on assisted dying. 

In 2014, the Senedd voted against endorsing the principles of a bill which would legalise assisted dying by creating a narrow exception for adults with six or fewer months left to live. However, since 2014, research made available by My Death, My Decision suggests that the current prohibition on assisted dying could have disproportionate consequences for  Wales; as the number of people travelling from Wales to Switzerland for an assisted death has more than doubled – and there are multiple years where those who travelled from the UK for an assisted death disproportionately came from Wales. 

Throughout its consultation response, My Death, My Decision argued that Wales should ‘take a leading stance on legal, safe, and compassionate assisted dying for the incurably suffering and terminally ill’, and in order to do that effectively the Senedd should have the authority to determine its own law. 

My Death, My Decision’s Chair Trevor Moore said: 

‘It is plainly wrong that, unlike other jurisdictions which have proven that palliative care and assisted dying work best when they work in tandem, a key aspect of Wales’ end-of-life care should be divorced from it’s control. 

Although there is now compelling evidence to support a change in the law for all of England and Wales which would allow adults of sound mind, who are either terminally ill or facing incurable suffering, the option of an assisted death, we believe that the final say on Wales’ law should at least be vested within its elected Assembly. We urge the Government to take notice of this evidence and recognise the compelling case for devolution’. 

Read My Death, My Decision’s full consultation response to the Senedd here and My Death, My Decision’s full response in Welsh here