The Bill to legalise assisted suicide was lost by a vote of 330 to 118, a massive majority. More than 85 MPs spoke in the debate. Speaking afterwards, Fiona Bruce MP said:
Parliament has made its voice clearly heard today, as MPs from across the parties voted down the Assisted Dying (No 2) Bill. The most vulnerable, as well as the Courts, now have absolute clarity that assisted suicide is not the route this country will go down. That is a victory for the vulnerable, not least the many disabled people who have campaigned so passionately against this dangerous Bill. This Bill proposed that suicide was sometimes an answer, and that we should sometimes respond to a person’s suicidal feelings with a lethal injection. That is against everything that our healthcare system is built on regarding the value of life and protecting the vulnerable, and would have been a backward step in an age where we are finally beginning to properly tackle issues of mental health.’
The Commons vote represented a truly compassionate affirmation by MPs of the safeguards that exist in law to successfully protect patients in a vulnerable position from undue pressure to end their lives. It defends the essential truth that there are better answers to the suffering of the terminally-ill than helping them to kill themselves. Doctors from places, like Oregon and the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, warned the UK not to make the same mistake – and Parliament has heeded their warnings.
Our focus must be on improving the standard and the availability of palliative care to all patients who need it. The ‘Access to Palliative Care’ Bill proposed by Lady Finlay of Llandaff, a leading palliative care expert and immediate past President of the British Medical Association, is the best opportunity for progressive reform in this area, and truly worthy of Parliamentary support.
On behalf of the bishops of England and Wales, Archbishop Peter Smith said:
I welcome Parliament’s recognition of the grave risks that this bill posed to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable people. There is much excellent practice in palliative care which we need to celebrate and promote, and I hope now the debate on assisted suicide is behind us, that this will become a focus for political action. I am encouraged by the participation of so many Catholics throughout England and Wales in this important discussion and hope that everyone involved will continue to support calls for better quality care as life nears its end.