EuthanasiaThe United Kingdom's House of Lords last week debated a proposed assisted dying bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients who have less than six months to live.

The bill, proposed by the former lord chancellor Charles Falconer, attracted an almost even split in the House, with around 65 peers speaking in favour of the bill, and 62 against.

The legislation will unlikely be made law due to time constraints, but the House agreed to move the bill to its next stage in parliament for further debate.

Amongst those who spoke in opposition to the bill was former cabinet minister Norman Tebbit who shared his concern about the bill becoming a means for people with financial incentives to end the lives of the frail, elderly and sick. He also shared the personal experience of his wife who was crippled almost 30 years ago in the IRA Brighton bombing. He said,

"Those who care for such people are all too familiar with the moments of black despair, which prompt those words 'I would be better dead so that you could get on with your life."[1]

Former MP Emma Nicholson labelled the legislation as "malign" and said should it be made law, it would create a "state death department."

Baroness Jane Campbell, former commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, spoke from her wheelchair with a respiratory aid condemning the bill. She said,

"The Bill purports to offer choice – the option of premature death instead of pain, suffering and disempowerment – but it is a false choice. It is that of the burglar who offers to mug you instead."[2]

Recently in Australia, pro-euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has come under fire for allegedly assisting a man in ending his life, and could be suspended from practicing medicine.

Last week, ACL's Katherine Spackman interviewed Associate Professor Patrick McArdle from the Australian Catholic University about euthanasia in light of these recent events. Listen to the interview here.


[1]Mason, R, 2014, House of Lords debate evenly split over assisted dying legislation, The Guardian,, para. 9.

[2] Borkett-Jones, L, 2014, Peers split in Lords debate on assisted dying, Christian Today,, para. 11.