Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called for a vote in the House of Commons on whether to legalize assisted dying in the UK.
His controversial call came during a highly emotional debate among MPs on a motion to make it legal for “terminally ill, mentally competent adults”.
During a debate in Westminster Hall, Labor MP Paul Blomfield wept as he told the harrowing story of his father’s death after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Mr Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, had to pause several times during his speech as he described the shock of being told his father had killed himself in his garage.
The last time proposals to legalize assisted dying were debated in the Commons in 2015, they were rejected. But a petition calling for a new debate has gathered more than 155,000 signatures.
“I can speak as a former health secretary to say that the medical movement as a whole is changing its view,” said Mr Hancock, who was expected to return to the cabinet in a reshuffle.
He called for an “informed, compassionate debate” in the Commons and said: “For 50 years we had a legal choice of whom to love, for a decade we had a legal choice of whom to marry.
“So let’s have an informed debate about when the end is inevitable and when the pain is unbearable, how we die.”
In response, Justice Minister James Cartledge told MPs: “The government’s view remains that any relaxation of the law in this area is a matter of individual conscience and a matter for Parliament to decide.
“To be clear, this does not mean that the government does not care about the problem, far from it.
“The final decision on whether to change the law is for Parliament to decide in the tradition of previous questions of conscience brought before the House.”
In his emotional speech, Mr Blomfield said his father died after a terminal lung cancer diagnosis. “The existing law forced my father to go to a lonely decision and a lonely death,” he said.
Holding back tears, he said: “11 years ago this day was also Monday, I got a call here, he was found dead in his garage.
“I had spoken to him the night before, on the telephone, as I walked through St. James’s Park, a casual conversation which did not allow me to imagine his plan.
“He loved life. He was 87 years old. But at that age he inevitably watched the often tragic, gruesome deaths of many of his friends.
“He spoke to me about their last days and has always been clear that he would rather end things than face a long and humiliating death, but I still didn’t expect that.”
Also backing Mr Hancock’s call, another former cabinet minister, Andrew Mitchell, described himself as a “convert”.
He said. “My opinion on this has changed over the years, mainly because of the number of voters I’ve spoken to who have experienced terrible end-of-life suffering, or who have witnessed loved ones die painfully. and not dignified circumstances.
“I want this to change for my constituents, I want it for me and I want it for the ones I love.”
But against the amendment, Conservative MP Danny Krueger, son of TV chef Prue Leith, said legalizing assisted dying could lead to doctors making decisions under pressure to reduce treatment costs.
Pointing to “don’t revive the scandal” during the COVID pandemic, Mr Krueger said: “I know doctors are good people who want the best, but if we force them to make user decisions about the best use of resources, we won’t.” Aren’t they pushing people in this direction?
Mr Krueger also said he was worried about unwell or elderly people who felt a burden on their families, adding: “Talk to any hospice manager and they’ll readily confirm this. there are a lot of people who want grandma or grandpa to hurry up and die.”
Matt Hancock calls for a vote on legalizing Assisted Dying. the deputy burst into tears during the debate Political news
Source Matt Hancock calls for a vote on legalizing Assisted Dying. the deputy burst into tears during the debate Political news