Prime Minister David Cameron has told MPs he does not support euthanasia after a Labour MP promised to introduce a bill to legislate for assisted dying this year.
Labour MP Rob Marris, who came top in the ballot for backbench legislation, announced on Tuesday that he would use his guaranteed slot to introduce a Private Member’s Bill on assisted dying. It will be the first time in 20 years that the House of Commons has voted on the topic.
At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday Mr Cameron told MPs that he was concerned that legalising euthanasia would put pressure on elderly and frail people "to take a decision that acutally they might not want to go ahead with".
He explained: "I know there are imperfections and problems with the current law, but I think these can be dealt with sensitively and sensibly without having a new law that actually brings in euthanasia."
Mr Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South West, said that the vast majority of the public was in favour of legalising assisted dying.
“Alongside them I am in favour of terminally ill people who are of sound mind having choice at the end of life. It is a choice that I would want for myself and I do not think we should be denying this to people who are facing an imminent death,” he said.
The Private Members Bill that he is due to bring forward will be almost identical to that put forward by Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor.
That bill, which sought to allow terminally ill people with less than six weeks to live to be prescribed a lethal dose of drugs by doctors, ran out of Parliamentary time ahead of May’s General Election.
Pro-life charities responded immediately to the announcement, with the charity Right to Life asking supporters to write to their MP to ask them not to support the bill.
“The fight for the right to life of vulnerable people is about to come to the House of Commons,” it tweeted.
The message was retweeted by the pro-life charity Life.
The bill is due to be discussed on 11 September.
Above: Rob Marris. Photo: Lathamalexander