Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Greens welcome public debate on assisted suicide

The Green Party today welcomed the Royal College of Nursing's decision to launch a public consultation on assisted suicide.

The Greens reiterated their concerns about the legal uncertainties that relatives face. The Green Party supports a clear, safe and open framework for people to be able to make decisions about when and where their life ends.

Fear and misery

Stuart Jeffery, health spokesperson for the Green Party of England & Wales, said today: "The lack of a coherent framework for assisted suicide in this country is causing fear and misery for many people.

"With families breaking the law by helping their loved ones attend clinics such as Dignitas, the UK's arcane laws are a real threat even though no one has yet been prosecuted.

"This law puts undue pressure on people already facing a difficult decision. Who would want to relieve their own suffering in the knowledge that their loved ones could end up in jail?"

Mr Jeffery, who is a registered nurse, continued, "People with terminal illnesses should be able to make clear and rational judgements on when and where their lives end, provided there is a clear framework of safeguards to prevent abuse. These safeguards must include a cooling off period, independent assessments, counselling and discussion of alternatives, and ensuring that illnesses such as depression are treated so that they do not impinge on the decision."

Protect the vulnerable

He concluded: "We must have a clear legal framework in this country to overturn the bizarre and damaging system that currently exists. We must have a system that protects the vulnerable and ensures that needs and wishes are met."

2. Over 100 people have travelled abroad for assisted suicide. There have been no prosecutions for people accompanying them.

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