Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Debate on Assisted Dying

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 30 April 2024 09:44

Yesterday, there was a debate in Parliament on assisted dying. Thousands of people had petitioned the Commons for this, and passionate campaigners queued to get a seat to watch.
I have held a strong view for some time in favour of changing our law to allow for assisted dying. I do believe that competent adults who are terminally ill should be able to make their own choice about how they die. As I said in the debate, it’s their life, their death and their choice.
84% of the public support the choice of assisted dying for terminally ill adults of sound mind.
We last debated this nearly a decade ago, in 2015. The Commons vote failed to reflect public opinion then, but MPs could take the chance to do it now.
People should not suffer unbearably against their will. It is better to have the option of requesting medical help to end their lives with dignity through a safe and compassionate system with strict eligibility criteria and safeguards.
Without this, too many are taking matters into their own hands with tragic consequences. People are often forced to take hidden, undignified, and desperate actions. They should be able to have an open conversation with their doctor instead. Some patients just refuse food. Some – who can afford it – are going to Switzerland.
Some relatives and loved ones want to help. It's heartbreaking to make carers risk a murder or manslaughter charge alongside their grief. One constituent told me, "In the 21st century we should be having an adult debate about this. We should protect family members or friends who risk prosecution for assisting." Another added: "This is a subject that as a caring and civilised country we can no longer ignore. I hope this issue can finally be addressed in Parliament."
We think of what we would want for our loved ones or ourselves, like my constituent who told me: "I firmly believe everyone has the right to a dignified death at the time of their choosing once they have received a diagnosis that they are not going to recover and are likely to die in pain and suffering. My own mother was forced to live in pain and with a terrible quality of life for the last 6 months of her life. This was terrible for my family to watch."
People suffer cruelly, and the law lacks the courage to help them. We need to bring these hard ethical choices into the light rather than force honest people underground. I hope the next generation of MPs will step up, change the law, and allow dignity.
I welcome the opportunity to participate in a fresh debate on this, especially as other countries have increasingly gained experience sharing how assisted dying laws work well. I am extremely grateful to constituents who have shared their experiences and views with me.
If you are affected by the issues raised in this debate, please visit or call 116-123 for free.