Thursday, October 23, 2014

UK News: Assisted suicide guidelines relaxed by Director of Public Prosecutions

Via The Telegraph:

Doctors and nurses who help severely disabled or terminally ill people to take their own lives are less likely to face criminal charges after Britain's most senior prosecutor yesterday amended guidelines on assisted suicide.  Until now all health care professionals faced a greater chance than others of being prosecuted for helping people to die because of the trust their patients placed in them.  Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said this special deterrent would now only apply to those directly involved in a person's care.  Anti–euthanasia campaigners accused Ms Saunders of "decriminalising" assisted suicide by health care professionals "at a stroke of her pen".  Dr Michael Irwin, the former GP nicknamed "Dr Death" for helping several people kill themselves, said the change was a "wonderful softening" that would "make life easier" for people like him.  He said he and many other retired doctors would now feel able to help people travel to Switzerland's Dignitas centre "without worrying".  But campaigners for legalisation of assisted dying said the amendment did not go far enough.  Ms Saunders insisted the change was simply a clarification and would not offer anyone "immunity" against prosecution for assisted suicide, which is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.  Guidelines published by the former DPP, Sir Keir Starmer, in 2010 say people acting "wholly out of compassion" could avoid prosecution for helping people end their lives. But the guidelines also list circumstances that would make prosecution more likely. They include where someone is "acting in his or her capacity" as a medical doctor.

Source/more:  The Telegraph

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2014/10/uk-news-assisted-suicide-guidelines-relaxed-by-director-of-public-prosecutions.html

Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Crimes, International | Permalink

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