My views on the Assisted Dying debate

Click HERE to read my latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald.

Gazette and Herald 13 Aug 15
In recent years the debate about whether or now Assisted Dying should be legalised has grown significantly and on September 11th the issue will be debated in Parliament.

I understand and sympathise with those who are in favour of the reform. When my Grandmother was ill I would have done anything to ease her pain and that of my family as we watched her shrink to bare bones and suffer. It was heart-breaking and left us feeling utterly helpless. I have immense sympathy with anyone who is in the difficult position of having to see a loved one suffering.

More than three hundred constituents have emailed or written to me, many of them with moving personal stories, to say that there should be a dignified, sensibly regulated option of Assisted Dying if you have a terminal illness and are given less than six months only to live.

I have also received a lot of letters and emails raising significant concerns in opposition to the proposals. Residents raise fears that legislation could have unintended consequences or put the elderly and medical professionals in very difficult situations. From the discussions I have had with local GPs there seems to be a split of views on what is the best way to progress.

In September there will be an initial debate to discuss the issue and a vote on the subject may well follow in the future. This will be a free vote. I believe that issues such as this transcend party politics and are deeply personal for many involved. I am very much looking forward to listening to the debate and the views from all MPs on this important matter.

Personally I feel quite uncomfortable with the notion of assisting in helping someone end their life. As a Christian, I believe that it is not for man to decide when someone dies and so, even though I can sympathise and understand the alternative view I will never support it. I do think that it brings up a number of ethical questions and I have concerns that medical professionals would find themselves in difficult positions. I also have concerns about the potential for abuse and misuse of an assisted suicide law and questions about whether those suffering might feel themselves a burden and feel obligated to opt for hastening their own death. In addition, there is always a possibility that someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness defies medicine – we never get everything correct. My friend’s mother did just this.

You can read more about the campaign for ‘Dignity in Dying’ at www.dignityindying.org.uk and Living and Dying Well at www.livinganddyingwell.org.uk

Thank you to everyone who has already contacted me about this sensitive subject. I will certainly attend the debate and will be very interested in hearing the arguments that colleagues make.

I would very much welcome hearing from more local residents with their personal views. Please contact me on michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or by writing to Michelle Donelan MP, 61 New Road, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 1ES