Brown firm on assisted suicide

By Alex Stevenson

The government has no intention of legalising assisted suicide, Gordon Brown has made clear.

The prime minister said he was “totally against laws on that [issue]” in an interview with the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, for the Today programme.

“It’s not really for us to create any legislation that would put pressure on people to feel they had to offer themselves because they were causing trouble to a relative or anything else,” he said on the Today programme.

“I think we’ve got to make it absolutely clear the importance of human life is recognised in this.”

Recent weeks have seen a number of cases emerge which have put the debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia in flux.

While it remains illegal in Britain some are using the Swiss firm Dignitas which specialises in euthanasia.

And, while there have been no prosecutions yet, it is not clear whether helping Dignitas’ clients travel to Switzerland is a form of aiding and abetting.

On December 9th the director of public prosecutions opted not to charge two parents who helped their paralysed son travel to a suicide clinic earlier this year.

And the following day saw a documentary broadcast showing a man taking his own life via assisted suicide. Mr Brown told the Commons he remained opposed to legalising the practice as a “matter of conscience”.

The Catholic church opposes euthanasia and Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor made clear he welcomed Mr Brown’s comments in the Today interview.

“I’m glad to hear that,” he responded.