The UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is expected to issue new guidelines on today that pro-life advocates say will effectively legalize assisted suicide in England and Wales.
In July last year, the House of Lords judicial committee ruled that the law needed to be “clarified” and ordered the DPP for England and Wales to issue the new guidelines on when and in what circumstances the law making it a criminal offense to assist suicide would be prosecuted.
The DPP held a public consultation after issuing draft guidelines in September year that proposed to change the rules in order to allow individuals who help others kill themselves escape prosecution, as long as prosecutors can discern no motive of personal gain in assisting in the suicide.
DPP director, Keir Starmer QC, assured the public that the law prohibiting assisted suicide itself would remain unchanged.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well warned, however, that the guidelines “could have the unintended effect of leading potential law-breakers to believe they will secure immunity from prosecution if they assist suicides in certain prescribed ways or circumstances.”
British and international anti-euthanasia and disability rights groups have expressed their alarm at the draft guidelines, saying they put vulnerable people at risk and significantly undermine the law.
The Christian Institute wrote that it is “unprecedented for prosecutors to set out ways in which people can commit a crime, yet avoid being charged for it.”
Anthony Ozimic, Communications manager, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LSN, “The DPP and the euthanasia lobby have exploited the public’s well-founded sense that justice should be tempered by mercy. There will be no mercy for the weak if justice does not protect them from the strong.”
Phil Friend, chairman of the Royal Association for Disability Rights, said that any change in the law would “create a class of people from whom legal protection can be taken away”.
Read related LSN coverage:
Britain Already Has a “Government Policy of Silent Euthanasia”: Anti-Euthanasia Activists