The Falconer Bill – a Spectator’s View from Parliament Square

On Friday 18th July, CU member Michael Straiton joined the large group massed outside the Houses of Parliament, which was following the progress of the Falconer Bill on Assisted Dying, being debated in the House of Lords that day.  Below he shares some reflections:

Following our debate at the PPAC on Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill, I decided to join the demonstration of disabled people and others who had assembled across the road opposite the Peers’ Entrance to the House of Lords two days later on 18th July. The police had separated the groups who were lobbying for and against the Bill that would give doctors the legal right to “assist” people to die, waving banners to the peers as they went in, then to traffic and passers-by. .

A record 150 peers attended the House that morning to debate Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill when each member was allowed four minutes to state their case. Many, like the severely disabled Baroness Jane Campbell and Lord David Alton, spoke eloquently against the Bill. The Strangers’ Gallery in the House was well attended to hear the noble Lords state their case.

The arguments on both sides were poignant. I circulated round both camps outside and those in favour of the measure gave horrifying stories of loved-ones who had died in terrible pain and distress, evidently not having had adequate end-of-life palliative care. There were many brave disabled people who celebrated life and felt that they would be under threat if the Bill ever became law. One demonstrator from Holland told of the mobile “euthanasia vans” that, if a G.P. refused to kill his patient, would oblige with a lethal home visit.

We must clearly keep up the pressure against this Bill that the weak, elderly and disabled fear so much.

Dr Michael Straiton KSG