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Campaign calls for law change as 'suicide tourism' rises

Right to die campaigners are calling for a change in the law after it was revealed that one in five people who go to Switzerland for an assisted suicide are British.

Supporters say a big increase in so-called "suicide tourism" shows that terminally ill Britons should be able to end their lives at home.

ITV News Correspondent Harry Smith reports.

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Lord Falconer: Suicide tourism 'only allowed for the rich'

Lord Falconer pictured ahead of a debate in to assisted dying this year. Credit: PA

Introducing the Assisted Dying Bill in the UK would not lead to more death but to less suffering, Lord Falconer said during a debate in the House of Lords, as figures released showed that the number of of people travelling to Switzerland to take their own lives had doubled in four years.

The current situation leaves the rich able to go to Switzerland, the majority reliant on amateur assistance, the compassionate treated like criminals.

It is time for a change in the law but only a very limited and safeguarded change.

– Lord Falconer

Suicide tourism numbers 'double in four years'

Suicide tourism is on the rise, experts said after they found that the number of people travelling to Switzerland to take their own lives had doubled in four years.

One in five people who travelled to Zurich for assistedsuicide between 2008 and 2012 were from the UK, researchers found.

Suicide tourism numbers 'double in four years' Credit: GAETAN BALLY/Keystone Switzerland/Press Association Images

Experts from the University of Zurich analysed data from the Zurich Institute of Legal Medicine database on assisted suicide of non-Swiss residents during the five year period.

They looked at 611 cases from 31 countries around the world - 126 of which were people from Britain. Their paper, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that in 2008 there were 123 cases of suicide tourism, while there were 172 cases reported in 2012.

Peer 'could have used assisted dying laws' aged 18

Conservative peer Baroness Morris of Bolton said she may have used assisted dying laws if they had been around when she broke her back in a riding accident aged just 18.

Baroness Morris said she considered ending her life after a riding accident aged 18. Credit: PA

The Baroness told the House of Lords she became so depressed about never being able to walk again she stockpiled pills as she feared she was becoming a burden to her parents.

She said: "I don't think I would have ever taken them. I just wanted to be free from the pain. But I was lucky. A wonderful nurse befriended me, helped me to feel positive and I got better.

"But what if instead of stockpiling distalgesics, the Bill for assisted suicide and I had been in that frame of mind?"

She said people in Oregon in the US, where assisted dying is legal, had waited up to four days to die after being given a dose of lethal medication and six people had woken up but "none of them had a second go."

Wanting to die is 'not a weakness,' says peer

The assisted dying bill is being debated in the House of Lords. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Shadow leader of the House of Lords Baroness Royall of Blaisdon said wanting to die was "not a weakness" as the debate on assisted dying continues.

The Labour peer, whose late husband had cancer, said: "For me the goal must be to allow people who are suffering at the end of their life to choose to die.

"This I believe is a matter of compassion and human dignity."

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Assisted dying bill set to be debated by peers

An assisted dying bill proposed by former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer is to be debated in the House of Lords today.

The Bill proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

Around 130 peers, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey who said he supported new legislation on the issue, are set to take part in the debate which is expected to last 10 hours.

A survey conducted for ITV's Tonight programme found 70% would support allowing assisted dying under the framework outlined by the Assisted Dying Bill

Peers pledge not to wreck assisted dying Bill

A group of peers opposed to moves to legalise assisted dying legislation have pledged not to vote against a bill in the House of Lords on Friday. They believe further parliamentary scrutiny will expose the law's flaws.

The legislation tabled by Lord Falconer, proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients with less than six months to live.

Watch Tonight: Assisted Dying - For and Against on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV.

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