Assisted Dying: should it be legalised? Watch a debate now

17th May 2013

In England and Wales, it is an offence to encourage or assist a suicide. The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland and anti-euthanasia campaigners say the current law protects vulnerable people.

However, research by the mutual healthcare provider, Benenden Health, shows the nation is firmly in favour of the ‘Assisted Dying’ argument. The study revealed that 77% of people in the UK think that assisted dying should be made legal.

The full research results can be downloaded here

To explore the research and debate the issues around assisted dying, Benenden Health brought together Heather Pratten, Official Patron of Dignity in Dying, who is pro assisted dying and Mik Scarlet, Broadcaster and Journalist, who is against a change in the law.

Watch the debate below:

Commenting on the research, Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at Benenden Health said: “It was astonishing to see that 77% of people in the UK believe assisted dying should be made legal and this, along with the other findings, has revealed that the public has very strong opinions on the subject.”

The Benenden Health research also canvassed opinion on who should be eligible for assisted dying, if it became legal, with 32% of those questioned stating it should be for those with a severe disability that affects their quality of life. While 38% think assisted dying should only be allowed for those in a vegetative state, with no chance of improvement, and this figure rises to 53% in 16 – 24 year olds.

The fact that assisted dying is currently illegal does not seem to deter people, as 43% of those surveyed admit they would help a loved one to end their life if they were asked, despite it being illegal, with this figure rising to 54% among those in Bristol and 50% in Southampton. It appears males are more likely to help stop a loved one’s suffering, with 50% stating they would help, compared with 38% of women.

For some who are desperate to end their suffering, they see travelling to a country where assisted dying is legal as their only option and it seems many others would consider this. More than half of those questioned would travel to a country where assisted dying is legal, with 58% saying they would travel abroad to help a loved one end their life and 54% revealing they would ask a loved one to take them abroad.

For more information on the campaign to support the legalisation of assisted dying, please visit www.dignityindying.org.uk and for details about the argument against the changes go to www.notdeadyetuk.org

Benenden Health regularly seeks to facilitate debate on the most important health & wellbeing issues facing the UK today. View an article from the summer 2013 issue of benhealth featuring a further debate on assisted dying between Baroness Campbell of Surbiton and Sir Terry Pratchett.

Ends

This research for Benenden Health was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 17/04/13 and 25/04/13 among a panel resulting in 2,042 respondents. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

Debate filmed on Monday 13th May 2013.

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