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Thursday 5th January 2012

Anti-Euthanasia Groups
Condemn Falconer Report

Anti-euthanasia groups have robustly rejected the calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide by the Commission on Assisted Dying that was chaired by Lord Falconer. In a 400-page report published today the commission, which has been severely criticised for its pro-assisted-dying bias by the British Medical Association among other respected medical, disability and religious groups and organisations, is asserting that the law should be changed to permit assisted suicide for patients who are terminally ill and have under a year to live.

The Falconer Report recommends that such patients should be allowed to request a lethal dose of drugs from their doctor which they would take themselves. ALERT, the anti-euthanasia group, Not Dead Yet UK, and Care Not Killing alliance strongly oppose the recommendations.

Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of ALERT said:
"The report by Lord Falconer's so-called Commission on Assisted Dying is less solid than it seems on the surface. There is no firm ground in its proposals anywhere. In spite of much talk of safeguards stand on the pretty green scum and you will sink into the mud. It is extremely dangerous and must be rejected."

Dr Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing said:
"The very last thing we need, especially at a time of economic recession, when many families are feeling financial pressure and health budgets are being cut, is a law allowing assisted suicide.
"This would place pressure on elderly, sick and disabled people to end their lives, for fear of being an emotional or financial burden or exhausting an inheritance, and would be a recipe for abuse and exploitation for those with an interest in their deaths.
"The law is there to protect vulnerable people, not to give liberties to a very small number of those who are determined to die. The current law works well. It provides a strong deterrent to would-be abusers whilst at the same time giving discretion to judges and prosecutors to temper justice with mercy in hard cases. It does not need fixing and we tamper with it at our peril."

Baroness Jane Campbell of Not Dead Yet UK said:
"As the biggest reason given for wanting to die early is being a burden on families and others, we believe this reason must be addressed and resolved before considering legislating on assisted dying.
"We believe there is much evidence in the commission's findings to show how difficult it is for people to receive a good level of palliative care and social care across the country. It also acknowledges that both the Swiss clinic and Oregon are not safe or good examples of assisted dying in practice.
"We also all know the NHS is currently not in a position to make it possible for people to have a proper choice. They are often left without dignity or pain relief, which therefore demonstrates clearly why individuals faced with this possibility, say they want help to die rather than suffer this lack of support. We can change the second but not the first scenario.
"We want to change bad attitudes, lack of social care and health care, before thinking about the possibility of assisted dying. We do not want the law changed now."