82% of Lib Dems back giving terminally ill adults the option of assisted dying

by Stephen Tall on June 7, 2014

Sunset at Kabini RiverLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Caron Lindsay wrote an excellent, balanced piece about the current assisted dying legislation here yesterday. Here are the results of our recent members’ survey on the subject.

82% back Assisted Dying Bill

Currently it is illegal for a doctor to help someone with a terminal illness to end their life, even if the person is suffering unbearably and of sound mind. There will be a Bill in Parliament this year which would allow terminally ill adults the option of assisted dying. This would mean being provided with life-ending medication to take themselves if two doctors thought they met all of the safeguards. They would need to be of sound mind, be terminally ill and have 6 months or less to live, and having made a clear and settled decision with time to consider all other options. Whether or not you would want the choice for yourself, do you think this Bill should or should not become law?

    82% – Should become law
    11% – Should not become law
    7% – Don’t know

By an overwhelming margin, Lib Dem members back the Assisted Dying Bill – a similar result to what YouGov found when they asked this same question in February. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• It’s right that when someone is facing an inevitable and natural death that they should be given the option to choose and control their death. It’s the compassionate thing to do.
• BUT this could well be the beginning of a long an perilous path. The conditions would have to be RIGOROUSLY enforced and subject to permanent monitoring.
• no-one should have the power to take life but I have great sympathy for those in that situation
• Slippery slope.
• I am not yet convinced appropriate safeguards are in place or are even possible.
• People should be able to choose when and how they die, if they wish to do so.
• As per Liberal Democrat policy, I support assisted dying.
• It would not be my choice, but it’s not for me to take away choices from anyone else.
• But those safeguards would have to be very strong and proven that no undue influence brought to bear
• Doctors already do this anyway. Such decisions should be made above board.
• This is a very difficult issue, but such a change in the law could be exploited by unscrupulous people. Doctors should however be allowed to prescribe pain killers to reduce suffering, even if thet reduces the life expectancy of the patent
• Danger of pressure put on the person or by themselves

• End of life care should be improved but won’t if there is this option
• But it does not go far enough. 6 months to live is too little. Some people can suffer terribly for years and should be given the choice to end it.
• If the doctors agree. However doctors should never be compelled.
• We are allowed to euthanise our pets if they are suffering, yet humans are condemned to continue suffering even if they would rather die. Forcing a person to suffer is torture, and should not be allowed.
• Sympathetic but want to hear more about the Bill’s provisions.
• This choice is the final freedom
• The condition of having 6 months or less is unnecessarily restrictive – why should people who meet the other criteria be force to live until they can find two doctors who say that they have only 6 months left? This is highly offensive, and open to obvious abuse.
• From a religious standpoint I hold all life sacred, but as with animals in pain or incurable, there will be occasions when ending one’s life must be offered to the individual as the final palliative.
• It is a very difficult decision. Where there is life there is hope, it would have to be very carefully administered to prevent abuse.
• My life not the country’s.
• We have no right to insist anyone suffers unduly. How the church can be against this beats me – they can’t be Christian.
• Provided there are strong safeguards to make sure this is indeed the person’s decision and (s)he has not been pressurised.
• The law as it stands amounts to torturing those unfortunate enough to be in this situation.
• It’s permissive legislation
• That extreme care should be taking into consideration when dealing with this very moving topic, as maybe to many people will want to et assisted dying but I do agree with that people in not any chance of life should be giving that option.
• Although the six month limit seems unreasonable. If someone faces many years of unending pain and discomfort they should have this right too.
• I am completely opposed to this, because it would certainly result in some people being pressured to accept death by relatives when they would not otherwise wish it, or accepting death because they believe they have become a burden (or expense) to their relatives. We should make the best of palliative care.
• Should become law, however the “6 months or less to live” clause will be a major problems. Any doctor (or vet!!) will tell you that it’s notoriously difficult to make such predictions accurately.
• It’s too dangerous.
• Just as I choose the house that I live in or my means of transport so should I choose the ending of my life – Seneca
• My life is my own. And the business of the medics is not to prolong life but to relieve suffering.
• it is an extremely difficult subject area and whilst I understand why someone would want to end their life in such a way, I do not feel it to be appropriate for life to be ended earlier than it should be.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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