Being a Member of Parliament is one of the greatest honours anyone can have but it carries with it the highest level of responsibility. During my time as the MP for Delyn, I have taken part in many debates that when passed would have a massive impact on each and every person’s life. This week Parliament debated The Assisted Dying Bill. A Bill that focused our attention towards those who facing terminal illness. A Bill that focused our attention on the families caring for those coming to the end of their lives. And one which many people felt passionately about.
I have received hundreds of letters and emails calling for me to vote either in favour or against the Bill. Each of correspondent contained a moving reason why I should or should not have voted for the Assisted Dying Bill. Rarely as an MP do you see a Bill garner so much attention. Rarely do you see it perfectly balanced between those in favour and those against.
On Friday Parliament had to make a decision and in this debate, whatever your view, I think it was a great example of how national decisions should be made. Each speaker delivered powerful dedications to friends, family and constituents that have passed. The Commons was gracious, sincere, and considerate. However I had to make a choice I voted against the Bill.
The bill was voted down by 118 votes to 330 and therefore was defeated and now will not be moved any further in the law making process. However, I wish to explain why I voted against this Bill as your MP.
The way in which we care for dying people is a test of our values as a society. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that round the clock access to high quality palliative care for people who are terminally ill is extended, improved and not damaged in any way. It believe it is more important to give people care and support, rather than allowing assisted dying.
After reading the Bill I was concerned with several aspects. One worrying section placed too much power in the individual to administer life ending drugs. Another was a lack of safeguards defending the individual reaching their decision to end their life. It was argued that the judicial system would act as a safeguard, with clinicians providing factual information only to help reach a decision. I believe that this approach was dehumanising and did not take into account a wide ranging variety of factors associated with those who are terminally ill.
I believe that we should be doing all we can to eliminate pain. But I do not think that ending someone’s life is the answer. Care and compassion to those facing a terminal illness is what is needed, both the individual and families who are supporting them.
I know some will agree with me and some won’t but I hope the above will go some way to explaining why I made the decision to vote against the Assisted Dying Bill.