Assisted suicide 'a step closer to legality'

Legislation allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients to die is to come before parliament in the next few months, according to a report.

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Call for reform to 'barbaric' assisted dying law

Baroness Jay of Paddington has called for medical professionals to be allowed to aid the death of terminally ill patients if requested. Credit: Ian West/PA

The former leader of the House of Lords this week called for a change in the law to allow terminally ill patients to die with the assistance of medical professionals.

While guidance from the director of public prosecutions suggests that loved ones who end the lives of terminally ill adults should not be prosecuted. However, assistance from professionals remains prohibited.

Speaking on Friday, Baroness Jay of Paddington questioned whether it was sensible for parliament "to condone compassionate amateur assistance to die while prohibiting professional medical assistance which might be equally compassionate and more skilfully gentle".

A bill on assisted dying put forward by Labour's Lord Falconer proposes reforms to allow "safeguarded choice" for "mentally competent" terminally ill patients with six months to live. A Lords vote is expected on the bill in the next four months.

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Assisted suicide 'a step closer to legality'

The government will not stand in the way of a change in the law on assisted dying, the Telegraph reports. Credit: Andrew James/Media Wales/PA Wire

Legislation allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients to die is to come before parliament in the next few months, the Telegraph reports.

The government said it will not block a change in the law, according to the newspaper, indicating Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians could be given a free vote on the issue.

At present, anyone who helps another person kill themselves could face up to 14 years in prison.

However, new guidelines from the director of public prosecutions in 2010 indicated that loved ones "acting out of compassion" were unlikely to be charged.

However, medical professionals remain prohibited from assisting death.

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