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Conservative MP reckons assisted suicide will be legal in UK within 4 years

by Premier Journalist

Conservative party MP Andrew Mitchell, the former Secretary of State for International Development, has said his mind has changed on assisted dying and he now supports making it legal.  

Euthanasia, where a doctor carries out a patient's death, and assisted suicide or assisted dying, where someone else aids a person's death, are both currently illegal in the UK. 

The MP for Sutton Coldfield said he supported "very, very tight reform," to allow people to end their own life when they are told they have six months to live. This would be for people mentally capable of making the decision.  

Mr Mitchell also said he thinks many more MPs support the idea than ever before and that the House of Commons will be mostly in favour of it before this parliament is up.  

Campaign group Care Not Killing's Alistair Thompson responded to the former Cabinet minister's comments by explaining why some MPs may have changed their minds: "There have been a number of very emotional cases and it's very difficult to argue with someone who is clearly in a very distressed state who is arguing for a change in law for their personal circumstances. But the reality is, the current prohibition exists to protect vulnerable people who may feel pressured into ending their lives." 

Thompson added: "I think it comes down to the sanctity of life and the belief that it's important to offer care and support to people rather than trying to end their lives. And I think that is a good view, not just for Christian MPs but actually for all MPs to bear in mind." 

Sian Vasey, spokesperson for a group of disabled activists, said: "I would be very scared if a doctor said to me; 'Well, you know, would you like to consider ending your life?' 

"It's not a good thing for humanity really. It's a very discouraging idea that basically [you] go to the doctor and you can negotiate your death." 

The politician clarified that his intention was not to have a system where a vast number of people could request death: "We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change. We are looking for very, very tight reform. 

"I think that given the very limited nature of these proposals; that it would be for someone who is within six months of the end of their life, with very strong safeguards, the decision being made by a High Court judge, by two doctors - I think those limited proposals may command the support of parliament in the next four years." 

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