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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.

Read: Ex-schools chief: I considered starving myself to death

Read: Large majority of Britons support assisted dying

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Vicar: Suffering cannot be 'edited' out of our world

The Church of England will have to continue wrestling with the topic of assisted suicide, the Speaker's chaplain to the House of Commons told ITV News, as the church is to hold a key meeting today. Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said:

It is a controversial debate. But I don't think it puts the church in a difficult position [...] The church genuinely wants to ensure that those who are vulnerable in society are not left in an even more vulnerable position.

The reality is I believe that we cannot edit suffering out of our world when it comes to sickness or illness. So as a society we do need to find compassionate ways to be there with each other. So the church will have to continue to wrestle with this topic. It's not something that's going to go away.

Read: Desmond Tutu latest religious figure to back right-to-die

Desmond Tutu latest religious figure to back right-to-die

Retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu is backing a law change on the right-to-die.
Retired Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu is backing a law change on the right-to-die. Credit: PA

Desmond Tutu has become the latest high-profile figure to come out in favour of a change in the law on the right-to-die.

Writing in the Observer, the former Anglican bishop said he reveres "the sanctity of life - but not at any cost."

His comments come after the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said the case of locked-in sufferer Tony Nicklinson inspired him to change his mind on the issue.

A Bill to legalise assisted dying will be debated in the House of Lords next week.

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Right-to-die backing 'step in the right direction'

The former Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to support legalising assisted suicide is a "step in the right direction", the widow of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson has told ITV News.

Jane Nicklinson said: "I think the fact that [Lord Carey] has come out and said his feelings have changed, a lot more in the church will come out".

Lord Carey's compassion 'does not go far enough'

Church of England members remain against any change in the laws surrounding assisted suicide, the Bishop of Carlisle told ITV News, after the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey dropped his long-standing opposition.

Right Reverend James Newcome, who is also the lead bishop for the Church of England on healthcare, said: "We reckon that the compassion that Lord Carey talks about, which we share absolutely, needs to be extended to them [most vulnerable people]".

Read: Former Archbishop of Canterbury backs right-to-die

Welby: Assisted dying plans 'mistaken and dangerous'

The current Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against the "mistaken and dangerous" bill that could soon legalise assisted dying.

Archbishop Welby's comments are at odds with one of his predecessors.
Archbishop Welby's comments are at odds with one of his predecessors. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Writing in the Times (behind paywall), Most Rev Justin Welby said the Assisted Dying Bill - due to be debated in the House of Lords - would leave a "sword of Damocles" hanging over the heads of elderly people if it passed into law.

The Archbishop said a GCSE religious education examiner would "take a dim view" of the arguments supporting the bill, and added that any new law could leave vulnerable people at risk.

“Abuse, coercion and intimidation can be slow instruments in the hands of the unscrupulous, creating pressure on vulnerable people who are encouraged to ‘do the decent thing,” he said.

Read: Former Archbishop of Canterbury backs right-to-die

Right-to-die would be signed off by two doctors

If assisted dying was legalised in Britain it would have to be signed off by two doctors, a Bill set to be debated in the House of Lords next week proposes.

The Bill, drawn up by former Labour Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, would mean patients were able to administer a fatal dose of drugs to themselves but they would not be able to receive help if they could not lift or swallow it.

The British Medical Journal published an editorial earlier this month backing the Falconer Bill.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said its policy does not support a change in the law in assisted dying.

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