UK: Assisted suicide bill heavily defeated

house-commonsGood news from Westminster: the House of Commons on Friday voted against a bill to allow people with terminal illnesses to end their lives with medical supervision. The private member’s bill put forward by Rob Marris, Labour MP from Wolverhampton, was defeated 118 – 330 votes.

The size of the majority is considered a very severe setback for euthanasia campaigners who want England and Wales to follow the Benelux countries and Switzerland, as well as US states such as Oregon, in legalising assisted suicide. One MP spoke of a “once in generation defeat”.

Opening the debate on Friday, Natascha Engel, deputy speaker of the House said that she had received an “unprecedented” amount of requests from MPs to speak.

Several MPs said that they had been sent more letters and emails about assisted suicide than on any other issue in the past two parliaments, a signal of how the debate has attracted national attention following high-profile cases of individuals travelling abroad to end their lives.