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The House of Lords [UK] was split on 07/18/14 over whether to back assisted dying, as supporters argued it would end the excruciating suffering of the terminally ill and opponents warned it was “a whisker away” from euthanasia.

The assisted dying bill, proposed by the former lord chancellor Charles Falconer, would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to patients judged to have less than six months to live. By the end of an emotionally fraught 10-hour debate, about 65 peers had spoken in favour of the legislation and 62 against. There was no consensus among the professions, with doctors, senior lawyers, police chiefs, politicians and the clergy speaking on each side.

Many warned it would lead to pressure on disabled people not to be a “burden” on relatives. Grey-Thompson questioned whether it would lead to Dignitas-style clinics in Britain and argued it would not provide people with a “Hollywood death”. A few even made comparisons with the mass euthanasia undertaken by the Nazis.

With the House so evenly divided, the peers nodded Falconer’s bill through to its next stage in parliament for further debate. It is unlikely to make it into law because of a lack of time, but David Cameron, while “unconvinced” of the arguments, has said he is open to a similar debate in the Commons.

The House of Lords cannot pass laws; only the House of Commons can do that. The present government seems opposed to this law reform, thus not likely to grant time in the Commons. This parliament has been debating this issue on and off since l936 !

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