As a society we are clear that suicide is not something to be encouraged or assisted. Legalising assisted suicide flies in the face of that. It sends the message that, if you are terminally ill, ending your life is something that society endorses and that you might want to consider. Is that really the kind of society we want?
England has the chance through my Private Member's Bill to improve care. The Bill would require all commissioners to ensure their patient population has access to seven day specialist palliative care services, that patients and their families have a clear point of contact in a crisis, that there is advice available at all times to front line staff caring for dying patients and that such staff have all received core training in good end of life care.
The truth is our right to choose is widely curtailed for very good reasons. We're not free to drive as fast as we choose, or in what direction we choose, or to smoke wherever we choose. The reason is the public good, to protect the vulnerable. It's simply untrue that suicide affects no one else. Nor is it true that assisted dying is a purely personal matter.
Securing a positive future for all sick and disabled people will not come from dirty politics and cheap headlines, but rather it will come from putting our differences aside and digging deep to reveal and challenge the prejudices against us, even those from within, that have existed since we were living in caves. Only by doing this will the issues of welfare and assisting dying be framed in a new and positive way.
Please before you pass judgement on anyone's quality of life, stop and think. Don't just claim "I couldn't cope", as I really think you could. Pain, like many other trials in life, can be beaten. It can be medically treated and psychologically mastered, with help, and so we need to have a sensible debate on quality of life before we go any further down a road that may be very hard to come back from.
Falconer's bill will alleviate the suffering of thousands of people nationwide by respecting their right to freedom of choice. We are clear, however, that in covering only those who are entering the last six months of their lives, this bill continues to restrict the rights of many more people who suffer just as much, but are 'merely' irrevocably ill.
The Assisted Dying Bill is long overdue because we can't keep forcing people to die in pain and misery against their will, or pressuring the terminally ill into committing gruesome acts of suicide as a last resort. We must realise that the right to life includes the right for individuals to make an informed decision to die in the way that they perceive to be the most dignified.
On Friday the Lords will debate the 'Assisted dying bill' and I am one if many disabled people that has been vocal in their opposition to this dangerous legislation, that is likely to be the starting point to the normalisation of 'mercy killings' and a societal pressure upon sick and disabled people to 'do the right' thing.
How many Parliamentarians who will shortly debate the Falconer Bill on assisted suicide are people with wide enough life experience to empathise with those who see more choice as a threat and not a blessing? How many subscribers to the BMJ put themselves, day by day, into the shoes of people for whom consumer choice is someone else's luxury, even if their editor chooses to use his journalistic position to make a ruling on behalf of ethicists everywhere?
Today the Supreme court ruled against right to die campaigners Paul Lamb and Jane Nicklinson in their latest attempt to change the current laws on assisted suicide, and I must admit I am relieved. I know that might sound heartless, and there are many voices who cry about their suffering and choice, but a recent stay in hospital made me realise that there is a wider issue behind the assisted suicide debate.