27 February 2010
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has at last published some guidelines on assisted suicide. As a result, the Prime Minister suggests that this clarification under which those who assist someone to kill themselves may be prosecuted means that “the case for a change in the law is now weaker”. In other words the Prime Minister thinks we must resist the call to legalise assisted suicide .The DPP no longer considers that the prospect of prosecution is mitigated if “the victim had a terminal illness, or a severe and incurable physical disability, or a severe degenerative physical condition from which there was no possibility of recovery”. Significantly it seems that the naive assumption that a spouse who assists a suicide would always be acting compassionately has been removed and those who provide a Dignitas-style physical environment for suicide are more likely to be prosecuted. I am not sure how much further forward we are in this process but ultimately, I suppose, the matter will have to be decided by Parliament.