Page last updated at 20:48 GMT, Tuesday, 27 March 2012 21:48 UK

MPs approve assisted suicide motion

MPs approved a backbench motion on assisted suicide on 27 March 2012 and an amendment calling for "further development of specialist palliative care and hospice provision".

The motion welcomed the Director of Public Prosecution's Policy to Prosecutors in Respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide, which was published in February 2010.

The 1961 Suicide Act makes it an offence to encourage or assist the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Under the guidelines, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) must give consent before an individual can be prosecuted.

Conservative MP Guy Opperman used the debate to call for a full consultation on legalising assisted suicide.

Mr Opperman, who collapsed in Parliament last year and was diagnosed with a brain tumour, said the experience forced him to consider: "To whom does your life belong?"

He went on to say: "I might suggest that your life belongs to the individual themselves and it is for those who are not so lucky as I was to make their choices as to how they live their lives."

Mr Opperman recovered successfully from surgery and said he was "one of the lucky ones".

Fellow Conservative MP Paul Maynard warned MPs against "groupthink" and said he was concerned about the message sent out to disabled people.

Mr Maynard, who has cerebral palsy, said that the word compassion meant "fellow feeling" and that "all human life has equal value".

He said he was worried that, if one person decides their life is not worth living it might be difficult for another person with the same illness or disability to say "I want to live".

MPs approved the motion, tabled by Conservative MP Richard Ottaway and supported by 15 MPs from different political parties, without a division being required.

The amendment, in the name of Conservative MP Fiona Bruce and backed by more than 85 MPs, was also approved without a division.

MPs were allowed a free vote on the motion and amendment, meaning that party whips did not require them to vote a certain way.

Watch part one of the debate here.


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