Lords debates end of life choice

13 December 2013

A human rights lawyer, a former justice of the supreme court, a philosophy professor, a doctor and psychiatry professor, and religious representatives debated the case for patient choice at end of life on Thursday (12 December).

Members considered end of life care and spoke of the developments in areas such as palliative care, the hospice movement and charity campaigns to give people the choice to die at home - many paid tribute to those who work to alleviate the suffering of people at the end of life.

Members said it was a critical time for addressing the issue: there is an NHS England review of care for dying patients, the government may make proposals for replacing the phased-out Liverpool care pathway and a private member's bill on assisted dying has been introduced in the Lords.

Many contributions were given from personal experience of the subject. Some members argued that providing choice, including providing safeguards for assisted dying, accommodated different views on the subject. Other members thought that the end of life makes people vulnerable and the law should protect them at this point.

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