Aug 032015
 

– Urgent Action for DDPOs and Disabled Rights Campaigners to oppose the legalisation of Assisted Suicide

Book NOW for Assisted Dying bill briefing session and media training -13 August

The Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance is calling on Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) and individual Disabled Rights campaigners and supporters to join Not Dead Yet UK in speaking out about the dangers that the legalisation of assisted suicide poses to Disabled people.

There are currently two bills to legalise assisted suicide before Parliament. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying bill had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 4 June and Rob Marris’ Assisted Dying No.2 Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 24 June. Marris’ bill will have its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 11 September when Parliament returns from its Summer recess. For the first time in years MPs will get to vote on this highly controversial subject.

There are many different ways you can be involved but one important ask is for DDPOs to sign up to the ROFA statement opposing legalisation.

Inclusion London is also running an Assisted Dying bill  briefing session and media training workshop facilitated by Liz Carr from the Not Dead Yet campaign on Thursday 13th August at 336 Brixton Road, SW9 7AA.

The day is open to representatives and members from national as well as London Disabled People’s Organisations and campaigns. For more information visit the Inclusion London website  or contactellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.co.uk.

To read more about the Assisted Dying bills, the issues surrounding the legalisation of assisted suicide and ways you can be involved in the campaign see the Inclusion London (www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/Campaigns) and DPAC (www.dpac.uk.net) websites.

 

 

 Posted by at 17:16
Jul 052015
 

In 2012, thanks to an award from The Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, disabled actor and activist Liz Carr travelled to the then five countries where assisted suicide and/or euthanasia are legal ie Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in the USA, Oregon and Washington State.  (Assisted suicide is now also legal in the US state of Vermont and in Canada).

 

Liz is opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide and wanted to discover for herself how these laws work in practice and how, if at all, their existence changes the culture of a country.  She shares her discoveries in a two-part BBC World Service radio documentary entitled, “When Assisted Death is Legal” and which is available to listen to here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014dkq5

 

In under an hour of listening time, these programmes provide important new information and perspectives on this most difficult of topics.  For example:

 

* In Luxembourg, Jean Huss and Lydie Err, who co-sponsored the Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Bill 2012, admitted they were disappointed in the law because they said it failed to include children and those with dementia.  When I asked why these groups were not included in their law, they said that they knew it was easier to pass the law initially for terminally ill people only and then, once passed, to increase the law’s application.

 

* In Oregon, where the law is the blueprint for the Assisted Dying Bill currently before you in the House of Lords, the 2013 statistics reveal that pain is infact not one of the main concerns of people requesting assisted suicide.  Instead, the three main reasons are loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (88.7%) and loss of dignity (73.2%).  By comparison, inadequate pain control or concern about it was one of the least important concerns at 28.2%.

 

*  Since this documentary was produced, Washington State’s 2013 annual report has shown that 61% of all those who were supplied lethal drugs in order to commit suicide listed the feeling of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as one of their main reasons for their request.

 

* In Switzerland, assisted suicide has been legal since the late 1800’s and one of its most stringent safeguards is that each case is investigated by the police

 

* The Netherlands are currently debating something called ‘Completed Life’ which would legalise assisted suicide for those 70+ who are tired of life

 

* In the first 10 years since the Belgium Euthanasia law was enacted, there has not been one case of abuse reported.  Is this because there have been no abuses (the BMJ reported in 2010 that only half of all euthanasia cases are properly reported) or because, as in most other countries, reporting and monitoring are self-regulatory?

 

Liz’s personal conclusion is that the risks to the safety and wellbeing of the majority should continue to outweigh the individual needs of those who want an assisted suicide.  She hopes you agree and will vote ‘no’ to the Assisted Dying Bill.

Jul 052015
 

Wolverhampton South MP Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying Bill is going to be debated and voted upon in what’s known as it’s Second Reading in the House of Commons on September 11th.  This is the first time in 18 years that MPs will have had the chance to vote on an assisted suicide (AS) law.

 

We want to make sure that MPs vote ‘NO’ and kill the bill on September 11th. see also info about the lobby on 14th July

 

We need to talk to our MPs about our fears and concerns about such a bill, to find whether they’re for or against it and if the latter, we desperately need them to attend on 11th September to vote against this bill.

 

This information sheet is the legal one.  It details the current legal situation and looks at the details of these assisted dying bills.

 

The current situation

 

Those of us who oppose a change in the law, believe the current situation is adequate.  Under the 1961 Suicide Act, killing yourself is not illegal but encouraging or assisting another person’s suicide is and can lead to up to 14 years imprisonment.  The current law acts a deterrent to malicious or manipulative assistance with suicide.

 

But the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) also has a discretion not to prosecute if, for example, it is clear that assistance has been given reluctantly / after serious soul-searching or for ‘wholly compassionate’ reasons to ill or disabled people.  It is this discretion that has allowed the high profile assisted suicide cases to avoid prosecution.

 

There are a list of factors considered when deciding if the law has been broken but in reality, if a person has made it clear that they want to end their life by an assisted suicide for health / impairment reasons and a friend or family member aids them (as opposed to a medical professional) then whilst they may be investigated, it is unlikely that they will be prosecuted.  Infact less than 20 cases a year throughout the whole of England and Wales cross the desk of the DPP and few of them call for prosecution.  And yet apparently this law isn’t working?

 

But laws send out messages – when something is legalised, it acquires the stamp of social approval.  An assisted suicide law says, in effect, that if you are terminally ill, ending your life is an option that it is appropriate to consider.

And by putting assisted suicide into the hands of the medical profession, it’s feared it could become a treatment option.

 

Critics of the current law say that it’s unfair for families and friends to have to help an ill or disabled person to end their lives and not know in advance whether or not they’ll be investigated and charged.  We say the illegatlity of the assisted suicide acts as a deterrent and ensures it is not the easy option.

 

Supporters say that because it’s not currently legal for a Dr to assist, that people have to kill themselves with amateur means which may fail.  We say that everyone has the means to commit suicide and why should ill / disabled people be given a 100% successful method when over 90% of suicides for everyone else actually fail?

 

They say that dying people may have no choice but to take themselves off to somewhere like Dignitas before they’re ready to die but while the person is still well enough to travel – and that travelling to Dignitas is costly and difficult for those involved.  We say that rather bringing assisted suicide to the masses and make it an easy option,  that there should be improvements to end of life care for all people to ensure everyone can have a peaceful and pain free end to their life.

 

Supporters say they want the right to die.  We believe the right to die already exists for each and every one of us. What those wanting a change in the law are actually asking for is the right for someone else to kill them.

 

Instead of a discretionary power where very few assisted suicides are ever prosecuted, supporters of a change in the law want to lay down in advance, the situations when it is okay for a Dr to assist a person to end their life.  We say the law as it is enables the choice of a few whilst protecting the many.

 

What’s in the Assisted Dying Bill?

 

At the time of writing the text of the Marris bill is unknown but it’s likely that it will be very similar to the Lord Falconer Assisted Dying Bill that Not Dead Yet UK protested against in the previous Parliament. (Lord Falconer has also re-introduced his Assisted Dying Bill into the House of Lords so even if we defeat the Marris Bill in the Commons, we will still have to contend with Falconer at some point in the future!).  Firstly they’re calling it an assisted dying and not an assisted suicide bill.  They say it’s because it’s only for those who are actually dying but we say it’s to make the term more palatable, after all, the current campaigning group Dignity in Dying used to be called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

 

If passed, the ‘assisted dying bill’ would license doctors to supply lethal drugs to:

  • terminally ill patients with less than 6 months to live and who have,
  • a settled intent to end his or her life
  • the capacity to make such a decision and
  • are making the request voluntarily, on an informed basis and without pressure or duress

 

Two doctors are required to certify that these criteria have been met and their decision is to be referred to a judge of the High Court for confirmation.  There is no requirement for a psychological assessment to assess capacity.  The doctors do not have to be your regular doctors.  If approved, the person would be supplied with the lethal drugs to enable them to commit suicide.

A medical professional (but not necessarily a doctor) would remain with the person until they died but they cannot help them to take the drugs – to do so would cross the line between assisted suicide and euthanasia.

 

Many people who support this bill believe it is to assist those who cannot kill themselves to have the same opportunity as everyone else but in fact, if someone cannot physically ingest or do the final act themselves would not technically come under this bill.

 

The proposed law – unsafe to change

 

Critics of the bill are meant to be reassured by ‘safeguards’ to protect ‘the vulnerable’ from abuse – and ultimately murder.  So what safeguards exist to protect someone from being killed without their fully informed consent?

 

The proposals list a number of qualifying criteria for assisted suicide – such as settled intent, capacity to make the decision and freedom from pressure – but they do not translate these criteria into concrete safeguards.  Instead, they

propose that these issues should be dealt with by the Secretary of State in codes of practice AFTER Parliament has agreed to change the law.  SO MPs don’t even know the full extent of what they’d be voting for on September 11th. In effect, the issue of safeguarding has been side-stepped and Parliament is being asked to sign a blank cheque.

 

After concern about lack of safeguards was raised when the House of Lords debated the Assisted Dying Bill, Lord Falconer added a proposal that when a doctor assessing a request for assisted suicide considers that it meets the designated criteria, the decision should then be referred to a judge of the High Court for confirmation.  The bill does not, however, require the Court to undertake any investigations of its own and as such, the role envisaged for the Court is little more than that of a rubber stamp.  It is expected this will also be included in the Marris Bill.

 

Many aspects of a request for assistance with suicide go beyond a doctor’s professional competence.  It may be fair to ask a doctor to confirm that a patient is terminally ill, to offer a prognosis and to advise on possible treatments.  But most doctors are in no position to judge whether a request for assistance with suicide derives from a settled wish or whether there are any pressures operating in the background that could be influencing the request.  In today’s world of busy multi-partner GP practices and declining home visits doctors often know little of their patients beyond what they pick up in the consulting room and they do not have the time or resources to set about investigating such matters.

 

The Oregon Experience

 

The Oregon Death with Dignity Act has been the blue print for the Falconer Bill and will be no doubt for the Marris Bill too.  Here are some of the problems with the Oregon law:

 

  • Individuals seeking assisted suicide can resort to doctor shopping- visiting doctor after doctor until one agrees to write the lethal prescription.

 

  • Patients are often misdiagnosed as terminally ill with less than 6months to live when in fact they live for months and even years beyond what was originally expected.

 

  • Individuals with a new illness or disability are often faced with depression, which requires more than Oregon’s 15 day waiting period to be treated.

 

  • Many patients experience outside pressure to commit assisted suicide, which often goes unnoticed and unpunished.

 

  • Individuals are often portrayed as a burden on their families and are made to feel that their life is not as valuable.

 

  • In 2007, none of the individuals that requested assisted suicide in Oregon were referred for a mental health evaluation.

 

  • Under Oregon law, depressed or mentally ill individuals can still be considered “competent” to request assisted suicide.

 

  • Under Oregon law, doctors that fail to report or file incomplete or inaccurate reports face no penalties.

 

  • All records are sealed and all underlying data is destroyed after the annual report is published.

 

  • The 2013 Oregon statistics reveal that the three main reasons given for requesting an assisted suicide are loss of autonomy (93%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable (88.7%) and loss of dignity (73.2%).  By comparison, inadequate pain control or concern about it was one of the least important concerns at 28.2%.

 

  • Assisted suicide is also legal in Washington State. The 2013 annual report has shown that 61% of all those who were supplied lethal drugs in order to commit suicide listed the feeling of being a burden on family, friends or caregivers as one of their main reasons for their request.

 

  • 64 year old Barbara Wagner was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Her oncologist prescribed chemotherapy to slow cancer growth, reduce symptoms, and extend her life.  The Oregon Health Plan however would not cover the costs for her chemotherapy prescription, but sent her a letter saying they would instead pay for assisted suicide drugs.

 

 

Jun 222015
 

(NB. Those supporting the Bill use terms such as assisted dying and death with dignity to make killing someone / assisting a suicide more palatable.  Those of us opposed to legalizing assisted suicide think it’s important to call it what it is and so we use the term assisted suicide.)

The Assisted Dying Bill is doing the rounds again.  This time Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South is bringing this private members bill to the Commons for a full debate on Friday September 11 2015.  This will be the first time in over 18 years that Commons rather than the Lords have had the chance to vote on this subject so it’s essential that we let our MPs know that we oppose legalising AS.

The best way to do this is to pay your MP a visit before they finish for the summer on the 21st July.  Use this opportunity tell your MP that you oppose this Bill, to find out how they’re going to vote and most importantly, to tell your MP to attend the debate on September 11th  –  and hopefully to vote against it.

An actual meeting with your MP will have the most impact. MPs will see you at a ‘surgery’ (meeting) in their constituency (the area that your MP represents).  Sometimes you have to make an appointment and some MPs will hold drop in sessions.  If there’s a few of you in the same constituency from NDYUK, you could always go together?   Your MP should also be able to make a house call if visiting them would be difficult.

 

If you need to find out who your MP is, just put your postcode into www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/  The parliament.uk website will also help you find your MP’s webpage detailing when they hold constituency surgeries and how to make an appointment to see them.

Remember, an MP has a duty to see their constituents and an MP is meant to represent a constituent’s interests even if they disagree.

NDYUK will have an information sheet available with key points for you to print out and leave with your MP.  Your personal reasons for opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide however, will have the most impact – after all, your local MP is more likely to be concerned about issues that directly affect their constituents.  If your MP is also opposed to the Bill then you could ask them to help with our campaign, to debate against it in the Commons and to publicly speak out against the Bill in the media.

 

Most importantly, whether or not your MP shares your view, ask them to attend the debate and vote on September 11th.

 

Please make an appointment to see your MP before July 21st and if you really cannot visit them, write a letter or at least email them before July 21st.

 

Let us know how it goes, how your MP intends to vote & if you need any more information.  Thanks and good luck!

Jun 142015
 

While the Labour party still scrambles among the election debris searching for its identity and running focus groups to find out if it should be circa 1990s Bluritte retro Tory in shocking pink, or a Tuesday-an unpleasant creature seems to have emerged from the Wolverhampton dust…

Rob Marris Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West is a bit of an Indiana Jones: ex lumber jack, ex truck driver, traveller, sociologist and solicitor.  He also has a distaste for parked vans. In 2008 he caused £350 worth of damage to a van parked by a bus stop when he jumped on the bonnet because he didn’t like the way it was parked. While other people walked around the van, Rob chose to jump on the bonnet.

Colin Molloy, the district CPS prosecutor, said: “There were two vehicles parked in front of a bus stop with a small gap between them.” Others had walked through the gap but Mr Marris chose not to, Mr Molloy said. “The van was not parked to his liking,” he added. Marris admitted it was an ‘unconventional’ act and accepted a conditional caution. Unconventional is one term: contemptuous violent disregard for others property and person is another.

On the 31st July Rob Marris is hosting The Silence of Suicide. The event blurb says: ‘Strange title you may think … but it is the silence that precedes the ultimate act of those who tragically decide to end their lives’.

So it’s even stranger then, that this is the same Rob Marris who has resurrected the “assisted suicide” or “assisted dying” Bill via some archaic competition in which he was the MP who got to choose a Bill.  By this process, and choice, Marris is the man responsible for reopening the door of Falconer’s state sanctioned killing proposal.  The idea being that a doctor can leave you a lethal cocktail which you can take when he/she leaves the room, or have forced down you when he/she leaves the room-actually there are no safeguards on that unless your home is fully fitted with CCTV. Were there any other Bills he could have sponsored? Yes there were..

LBBill

Marris is a self confessed patron of Wolverhampton Mencap (Rights not Charity by the way Rob) but we’d still imagine he’d spare a thought for the LBBill  (see https://lbbill.wordpress.com/ ). A Bill intended to prevent the abuse, neglect and deaths of people with learning difficulties locked away in institutions often many miles from their families. Marris’ constituents wrote to him asking him to support the important Bill and presented the reasons why he should. But Marris replied that he had his own ideas.

 I already have a couple of ideas, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but the interesting-sounding Bill you suggest is not one of them.

I am a patron of Wolverhampton Mencap, and I can only hope that the problems you delineate are not present at New Cross (no we didn’t understand what that meant either).

Rob Marris

His idea was not to save countless lives, prevent misery and abuse of human rights, but to resurrect the call for death-A call that the majority of Doctors and the BMA rejects.

It’s the van all over again: A contemptuous violent disregard for others property, person and life. Not only will refusing to back the LBbill cost lives, but the dragging back of the assisted killing bill shows a complete contempt for disabled people. A complete ignorance of the circumstances we find ourselves in with social ‘care’ at breaking point, the loss of the ILF, £12.5bn more cuts to come, newspapers screaming scrounger, the rise of hate crime and the collapse of welfare support.

There couldn’t be a more dangerous time to bring back the Bill. But maybe that’s the idea, with little between Labour and the Tories, the shrinking of the state along with the culling of more disabled people through the assisted dying/suicide/killing Bill- it couldn’t be better timed. Why try to right the wrongs in long term hospitals, prevent deaths in long stay institutions, attempt to recognise human rights when people are tied down against their will or force fed psychotic drugs in long stay institutions-they needn’t bother with any of it.

Marris also needn’t bother with the hundreds of disabled adults in Wolverhampton who are Independent Living Fund (ILF) users. Wolverhampton ILF users are set to lose £784,000 when the ILF closes on June 30th and monies transfer to the local authority. At the time of writing Wolverhampton social services have refused to tell the 300 ILF users in Wolverhampton what’s going to happen to their support. Marris doesn’t seem particularly bothered either.

Marris doesn’t care about ILF users, he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses happening in long stay hospitals and institutions. He cares about the horrors of suicide while simultaneously imposing state sanctioned suicide on disabled people.

Ann Whitehurst sums it up

Rob Marris, Labour MP, was number 1 MP on the PMB ballot list and was therefore in a position to save countless disabled people’s lives and prevent thousands from abusive neglect. A number of requests were made for Rob Marris to present the Disabled Peoples Community Inclusion bill, known as LBbill, including one from Bob Williams-Findlay who lives in Marris’ constituency but he declined to sponsor the bill preferring to use his position of being in line-up for ‘private members bill’ to sponsor killing us rather than including us in life.

When have any of these Labour MPs who want us dead ever put forward Assisted Living bill? How many fought for the ILF? How many support people to get decent Care Packages from their social services? Labour fascism”.

Rob Marris we’re bringing a van to Wolverhampton very soon and we don’t think you’re going to like where we’ll be parking it.

Rob is on twitter @WSW_Labour why not let him know what you think

 

 

 

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/2076906/Labour-MP-Rob-Marris-cautioned-for-damaging-van.html

https://lbbill.wordpress.com/

http://www.changepeople.org/blog-and-news/justice-for-laughing-boy-a-new-bill-for-parliament/

http://www.robmarris.net/the_silence_of_suicide

http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/06/10/fears-over-780000-disability-benefits-in-wolverhampton-council-change/

 

 

 

 Posted by at 14:48
Jan 132015
 

NDY graphic

Press Release: 12th January 2015 @ 13:00
__________________________________________________

“NOT IN OUR NAME”
Terminally ill and disabled people speak out against the Assisted Dying Bill ahead of their protest outside the House of Lords on Friday, 16th January 2015.

NYD posters

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, 16th January 2015. Members of Not Dead Yet UK and others, will protest against the Bill outside the Houses of Parliament. They will carry pictures and statements from 80 terminally ill and disabled individuals whose conditions prevent them from travelling to London or sitting outside in cold weather.

Celebrity supporters of the Bill are well known already but politicians need to hear and value the opinions of people living with terminal illnesses and severe disabilities. We oppose any change in the law on assisted suicide because we fear it will put lives at risk. We do not accept that safeguards proposed in the Bill are adequate.

Not Dead Yet UK firmly believes that terminally ill and disabled people need the full protection of the law, especially at times when they, their families and friends may be fearful of the future. That is why we oppose the Assisted Dying Bill.

Sian Vasey, a Not Dead Yet UK member, said, “When people ask to be assisted to die, this is often in isolation and before everything possible has been done to alleviate their situation in terms of medical, social and emotional support. Fears for the future are the most common reasons for a person to request assisted suicide”.

Photo opportunity

Date: Friday, 16th January 2015

Time: 10:00AM – 1:00 PM

Venue: Old Palace Yard (opposite the House of Lords)

Sign up to the Thunderclap on twitter or facebook  https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21181-opposing-an-assisted-dying-law

Notes to Editors:

  1. Not Dead Yet UK is a campaigning network of disabled people founded in 2006 to oppose legislation on assisted dying for disabled and terminally ill people.

  2. NDY UK is an international ally to Not Dead Yet, USA http://www.notdeadyet.org/

  3. Not Dead Yet UK promotes equality for disabled people in a secular context; it is not faith centred or allied to any organised religion. Its supporters come from all sections of the community. Its guiding principles are to value the lives of terminally ill and disabled people and oppose assisted suicide.

 Posted by at 12:15
Nov 022014
 
On Friday November 7th the ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ returns to the House of Lords to be debated and amended line by line.
We have to show the Lords, the public and the media that disabled people do not want to give doctor’s the power to end our lives.  We do not want the state sanctioned killing of old, ill and disabled people of all impairments. 
We do not want to legalise assisted suicide.
This Bill is not safe!  
We want support to live, not to die. 
We have to stop this before it begins.
If we don’t, who will be next?
We have no choice but to protest.
 
Not Dead Yet UK plans to be outside the Lords in a show of opposition that no one will want to miss.
 
We’ll be gathering from 8 am at the Methodist Central Hall where the cafe will be open and there are accessible toilets. 
 
From there, we’ll be making the 5 minute push to the statue of George V, opposite the Houses of Parliament, Abingdon Street, London, SW1P 3JY (where we were last time).
 
We know this is early for many of us but please, if you can get there at any time before 10.30 am, please join us.  If you’ll be arriving after 9 am, go straight to the George V statue.
 
We should be finished by 11 am at the very latest.
 
If you need support – financial or otherwise, it may be possible for us to help out.  Please contact us on:  0797 0959791
 
This is a matter of life and death – please join us on the 7th November to say Kill the Bill, Not Us!
 
#notdeadyetuk