MPs in Stevenage and North Herts give their views on the Assisted Dying Bill

Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries - Credit: Archant

Politicians who voted to block a bid to allow assisted suicide have defended their decision.

And religious groups have backed their opposition to the controversial move, which was voted down in Westminster on Friday.

Motor neurone disease sufferer Alan Davey, of Coopers Close in Stevenage, claimed town MP Stephen McPartland didn’t consult constituents before making up his mind.

He said: “He voted as an individual and not as a representative of his constituents. I’m not saying everyone in Stevenage is in favour of it, but he didn’t bother to find out.”

Mr McPartland, North East Herts MP Oliver Heald and Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries all voted against the bill.

Mr McPartland said: “I cannot support assisted suicide for moral and practical reasons, as I am afraid it would be abused by some members of our society, who would use it to take advantage of a vulnerable person.”

Ms Dorries said: “The beauty of palliative care today is that no-one needs to die a painful death.”

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Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley and North East Beds MP Alistair Burt did not cast their votes.

Mr Burt was busy opening a children’s play area at the time, but said he opposed the bill because: “We could unwittingly find ourselves in a situation whereby it is expected of the elderly and vulnerable that they should opt for assisted death.”

Both the Catholic church and the Church of England issued statements this week welcoming the result.

And the Coptic Orthodox Church, which has its headquarters in Stevenage, said: “We have an age-old duty of care, especially to those closest to us, and this proposed change could in certain situations deprive us of giving that care to those who may consider themselves purely as a burden, and thus seek the premature ending of their own lives.

“One unsettling element of the proposed bill was that it qualified a person for assisted suicide if he or she is “reasonably expected to die within six months”, leaving no room for the uncertainty which we know to still be part of our medical science even today.”

Under current UK law, anyone encouraging or assisting a suicide or suicide attempt could face up to 14 years in prison. The bill would have allowed competent adults who are terminally ill to choose to have medically supervised assistance to end their own life, but it was rejected with 330 votes to 118.