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MPs launch new inquiry on assisted dying/assisted suicide

5 December 2022

The Health and Social Care Committee launches a new inquiry to examine different perspectives in the debate on assisted dying/assisted suicide.

The inquiry will explore the arguments across the debate with a focus on the healthcare aspects of assisted dying/assisted suicide. It intends to consider the role of medical professionals, access to palliative care, what protections would be needed to safeguard against coercion and the criteria for eligibility to access assisted dying/assisted suicide services. MPs will also look at what can be learnt from international experiences.

Evidence sessions are expected to begin in the new year. MPs will make their recommendations to government on next steps in a report following the inquiry.

Terms of Reference

Members of the public were invited to submit their views in an online survey while written submissions from organisations and campaigning groups are also invited on any, or all, of the following points.

  • To what extent do people in England and Wales have access to good palliative care?
    • How can palliative care be improved, and would such improvements negate some of the arguments for assisted dying/assisted suicide?
  • What can be learnt from the evidence in countries where assisted dying/assisted suicide is legal?
  • What are the professional and ethical considerations involved in allowing physicians to assist someone to end their life?
  • What, if any, are the physical and mental health criteria which would make an individual eligible to access assisted dying/assisted suicide services?
  • What protections could be put in place to protect people from coercion and how effective would these be?
  • What information, advice and guidance would people need in order to be able to make an informed decision about whether to access assisted dying/assisted suicide services?
  • What capabilities would a person need to be able to consent to assisted dying/assisted suicide?
  • What should the Government’s role be in relation to the debate?

Evidence should be submitted by 20 January 2023. Read the Guidance on submitting written evidence.

Chair's comments

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Steve Brine MP said: 

“The debate on assisted dying and assisted suicide understandably arouses passionate views with many different and equally valid perspectives. It’s an issue that has vexed parliamentarians who have sought a way through the many ethical, moral, practical and humane considerations involved.

What has changed in recent years is that there is now real-world evidence to look at. Some form of assisted dying or assisted suicide is legal in at least 27 jurisdictions worldwide. It became legal in Canada in 2015; the Netherlands in 2001; Oregon in the United States in 1994. So it is time to review the actual impact of changes in the law in other countries in order to inform the debate in our own. Our inquiry will examine that evidence, hearing from all sides of the debate. The government has stated it is for parliament to decide on the issue so our purpose is to inform parliament in any debate.

I will be approaching this inquiry with compassion and an open mind as I know will my select committee colleagues. We want to hear from campaigners, members of the medical profession and members of the public and we will look at the moral, ethical and practical concerns raised in a way that is informed by actual evidence.”

Further information

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