Boris Johnson has decided not to support plans to relax assisted suicide laws when they are expected to be submitted to MPs in the coming months, according to The Telegraph.
The Prime Minister made his decision after considering detailed arguments setting out the pros and cons during his summer break.
There was speculation earlier this year that some high-ranking ministers were preparing to back a rule change to legalize the right to commit suicide.
In May, Matt Hancock, then secretary of health, wrote to the chief statistician asking for figures on the number of people with terminal illnesses who commit suicide each year.
His successor, Sajid Javid, has reportedly made it clear to his friends that he has no plans to vote to relax the law if there is a new vote.
The assisted dying bill, led by Baroness Meacher, an all-bench peer, is expected to have its second reading in the House of Lords in two weeks.
The private member’s bill is expected to go through all its stages before the Lords before it has a chance to enter the House of Commons early next year.
The bill would only be debated in the House of Commons if the government gives it time or if the bill is taken up by an interested Member.
Possibility of dying
The Meacher reforms would give terminally ill and mentally competent adults in the last six months of their lives the opportunity to die at a time and place of their choosing.
All requests would be subject to the approval of two independent doctors and a High Court judge, with the person receiving a prescription for the drugs they would take themselves.
A government spokesperson told The Telegraph last night: This is an extremely sensitive and personal matter.
The government’s position has always been that this is a matter of individual conscience and therefore of Parliament’s decision.
Parliament has debated this issue on several occasions, and as it stands, Parliament’s will is that there should be no change in the law.
The British Medical Association recently dropped its opposition to physician-assisted dying and took a neutral stance on the issue.
The deputies who voted for and against
In 2014, Mr Johnson wrote in The Telegraph: I’m sure this is a change that the public widely supports, and whose time has come.
But he then voted against legislation to remove current guarantees in the House of Commons in 2015.
Sir Keir Starmer, now Leader of the Opposition, then openly declared his support for the bill: The law must be changed and voted in favor of the issue.
Michael Gove, now housing secretary, also voted against the legislation, while neither Mr. Javid nor Dominic Raab, the new justice secretary, voted on the issue.
Historically, physician-assisted dying has been viewed as a matter of conscience, with parties not ordering MPs to support a particular position.
Under the Suicide Act of 1961, it is illegal to encourage or assist in the death of another person.
A recent poll by JL Partners for Dignity in Dying found that 72% of voters in the Red Wall seats were in favor of legalizing physician-assisted dying with guarantees, with 76% of conservative voters in favor of the legislation. .
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