Assisted Dying

The 'Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill' has its 2nd reading in the House of Commons today. This is "a bill to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life." You can read its full text here.

I write this as the debate in the Commons is going on. I hope it will be defeated. I have many reasons which I will not go into in this post. Some of them you can find in this Guardian article and on the Church of England website. My main reason for being against a change in the law on this matter is based on the Christian imperative to have compassion and to care for the vulnerable. I want our medical and care services to develop excellent, properly funded and resourced palliative care for all who need it rather than enabling assisted suicide in a few rather difficult to define situations for people who may have despaired of such good care being available.

After the law was passed in the Netherlands allowing Euthanasia in certain circumstances, Elizabeth Jennings wrote this poem:


The law's been passed and I am lying low
Hoping to hide from those who think they are
Kindly, compassionate. My step is slow.
I hurry. Will the executioner
Be watching how I go?

Others about me clearly feel the same.
The deafest one pretends that she can hear.
The blindest hides her white stick while the lame
Attempt to stride. Life has become so dear.
Last time the doctor came,

All who could speak said they felt very well.
Did we imagine he was watching with
A new deep scrutiny? We could not tell.
Each minute now we think the stranger Death
Will take us from each cell

For that is what our little rooms now seem
To be. We are prepared to bear much pain,
Terror attacks us wakeful, every dream
Is now a nightmare. Doctor's due again.
We hold on to the gleam

Of sight, a word to hear. We act, we act,
And doing so we wear our weak selves out.
We said, "We want to die" once when we lacked
The chance of it. We wait in fear and doubt.
O life, you are so packed

With possibility. Old age seems good.
The ache, the anguish - we could bear them we
Declare. The ones who pray plead with their God
To turn the murdering ministers away,
But they come softly shod.

Elizabeth Jennings, New Collected Poems, Carcanet 2002, p. 141

Image Credit: Pixabay, CCO License, Public domain


  1. The Bill was defeated on 11 September in the UK House of Commons by an overwhelming majority. I am thankful, but understand that many people are feeling disappointed.


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