A question of ethics as MPs prepare to debate Assisted Dying Bill

Credit: ITV News

Video report by ITV News UK Editor Rohit Kachroo

As Parliament prepares to debate the Assisted Dying Bill, ITV News has spoken to a man who witnessed his wife's voluntary death in the United States.

Andrew Taylor described how his wife Meg wanted to take her own life after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

"It helped Meg be in charge of her life and not have her tumour in charge of her. I don't see that devalued her life," Mr Taylor said.

The couple's case is just one example of the issue described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of the "biggest dilemmas of our time" and who believes allowing assisted dying would be a "slippery slope".

The Archbishop's views were echoed by former Paralympian athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson who told ITV News she feared the effects it might have on disabled and vulnerable people in the UK.

However, if Parliament was to pass a Bill that helped people to choose when, where and how they could die, it would be following examples set by The Netherlands and Belgium as well as Switzerland where a number of Britons have already travelled in order to end their lives.

On Wednesday, California's Assembly voted to allow physician-assisted suicide of terminally ill patients, sending the bill to the state Senate where supporters are hoping to meet a Friday deadline for final passage which will make California the sixth US state to allow assisted dying.

The UK Bill would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have six months or less to live and who request it.

Currently, assisted suicide is illegal under the Suicide Act 1961 and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.