MPs reject assisted dying bill


MPs have voted against the Assisted Dying Bill going to a third reading in Parliament.

The proposed legislation fell at the second hurdle, heavily defeated by 330 votes to 118.

Ahead of the debate, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took to social media to attack the bill.

In a message posted on Facebook, Rabbi Mirvis stressed that the bill was misguided and dangerous.

“There is no greater value in Judaism than the sanctity of life. As a most precious gift from God, life has an absolute value, its preservation takes precedence over other commandments and it is not ours to cut short,” he wrote.

“The proposed limits to be built into the draft legislation are all inherently fallible and so are profoundly problematic.

“This law also inadvertently risks adding significant pressure to extremely vulnerable individuals, who might feel compelled to seek assistance to end their lives in order to relieve emotional, and sometimes financial, stress on family members.

“Parliament should give urgent and favourable consideration to the provision of the best possible palliative care, which should be foremost in our priorities in these circumstances, rather than legislation permitting assisted suicide.”

MPs were giving a second reading to the private members bill put forward by Labour MP Rob Marris.

The proposed legislation would have allowed terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live, who have expressed a clear intention to end their lives, to be allowed to do so.

Caroline Spelman, the Conservative MP for Meriden, said that “the increasing secularisation of society” had contributed to the creation of this bill.

“The idea of honouring your father and mother must have been weakened if elderly people feel themselves a burden.”

Conservative minister Crispin Blunt rejected concerns raised by the Chief Rabbi and other faith leaders in a letter to MPs last weekend.

Mr Blunt told the House: “The arguments put forward about the slippery slope, or about the vulnerability of people in the letter to us by the two archbishops and the religious leaders simply ignore the fact that this only applies to the terminally ill, with two doctors signing off on the fact that they are going to be dead in six months and signed off too by a high court judge.”

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations also issued a statement on Thursday opposing the bill, saying that if it were passed, “it would have far reaching and perilous consequences”.

The letter, published in this week’s Jewish Tribune, continued: “The implications of such a Bill becoming law are a cause of grave concern and alarm for the entire community, especially for the elderly, infirm and vulnerable, not to mention the terminally ill.”

Protesters supporting and opposing the bill had gathered outside Parliament as MPs debated the issue.

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