End of Life Choice Bill withdrawn

Maryan Street has withdrawn her – End of Life Choice Bill from the ballot box. (H/t Mark Hubbard, blogger at Life behind the IRon Drape)

The Bill proposed to legalise voluntary euthanasia for people with terminal illness likely to cause death within 12 months, or to people with an irreversible physical or mental condition that renders their life unbearable – by their own assessment.

Street reasons that if the bill is drawn during an election year, that it risks not being given proper consideration, but she denies the withdrawal was a result of internal pressure from the Labour Party.

However, its reported that the Labour Party are divided over the euthanasia issue, and it seems rather convenient that when the Party is under pressure to unify that a dividing issue is expunged – perhaps to avoid any perception of disunity.

Euthanasia is a very difficult topic because of the risk of abuse and issues around competency and consent. Some argue that we already practice involuntary euthanasia when turning off life support machines.

I think Street is mistaken to presume that election year is a bad time for the euthanasia discussion, because, the public seem most attuned to politics in election year and are more likely (in my view) to participate in the discussion.

Street was promoting this bill up until as recently as August, so I’m not convinced that she didn’t cave to some internal pressure in withdrawing her bill.

If removing private members bills that might be internally controversial  is part of Labour’s strategy for unifying the party, then they risk annihilating the  democratic reforms the party has already undergone.