Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield in tears over father's suicide during assisted dying debate

  • Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield breaks down as he shares the emotional story of his father's death during a debate in Westminster

A Labour MP has backed proposals to legalise assisted dying after sharing the heartbreaking story of his father's death.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield broke down in tears during a debate on the issue while talking about how his father took his own life after receiving a diagnosis for inoperable cancer.

He told MPs that changing the law could have enabled his father to "stay longer" and "go at the time of his choosing".

Assisted dying is currently illegal in England and Wales under the Suicide Act 1961. Someone judged to have helped the suicide or attempted suicide of another person can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

Speaking on the 11th anniversary of his father's death, Mr Blomfield told a Westminster Hall he had spoken to his father the night before he was found dead in his garage and that he had no reason to believe anything was wrong.

He said: "I was shocked and clearly still struggle with it but I shouldn’t have been surprised because he had always believed that the law should be changed to allow assisted dying, and let’s be clear – and we should be very clear about the terms we use – my dad wasn’t suicidal.

"He loved life. He was 87. But at that age he had inevitably watched many of his friends go, often miserably, horrific deaths.

"He talked with me about their last days and he had always been clear that he would rather end things than face a lingering and degrading death but I still wasn’t expecting it."

Mr Blomfield said his father's diagnosis "clearly led to his decision to take his own life", adding: "He couldn’t talk to me about it or his partner because he would have made us complicit.

"The current law forced my father into a lonely decision and a lonely death and he died prematurely because I am sure that what drove him to end his life at that point was the fear that if he didn’t act when he could and was still able to do so, he would lose the opportunity to act at all."

He said: "If the law had made it possible he could have shared his plans with us, and knowing that he could, with support, go at the time of his choosing, would have enabled him to stay longer."

MPs debated a petition signed by more than 155,000 people calling for assisted dying to be made legal for "terminally ill, mentally competent adults".

During the debate, Conservative former health secretary Matt Hancock called for a vote in the Commons on the matter.

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