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BASW Black Country hosts Assisted Dying debate

BASW Black Country branch is hosting a debate about Assisted Dying at the University of Wolverhampton on March 18th with local MP Rob Marris.

Rob Marris, MP for Wolverhampton South West, introduced the ‘Dignity in Dying’ Private Members Bill in 2015. Although the Bill was defeated, Mr Marris continues to champion choice for the terminally ill.

The seminar will be chaired by Bridget Robb, Chief Executive of the British Association of Social Workers, who will put forward the Association’s position on assisted dying, which states “No dying person should be encouraged to take their own life by any individual or any societal, legal or institutional influences”.

Rob Marris MP said: “As an MP, as a lawyer, and as an individual, I am convinced that we can do better for dying people. Along with millions of others, I believe that a terminally ill adult of sound mind should be allowed to make a legal choice of their own free will, to be provided with lethal medicine which they can take to end their own life – as long as there are strong safeguards. Those who believe that ending one’s own life is always wrong should not deny choice to those of us who do not share their beliefs.

“The Private Member’s Bill on Assisted Dying I introduced saw more MPs voting on this Bill than on any other in recent decades. The Bill enabled a terminally ill patient of sound mind to be provided with the medical means to end their own life.  Not for anyone else to do it.  Just the patient, self-administering. That is more compassionate and more dignified than what is happening now. The current situation is a mess, with home suicides, technically illegal actions by loved ones, and Dignitas deaths in Switzerland. 

“I want high quality palliative care to be more widely available.  Society should not refuse choice to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who wishes to be end their own life, in the hope that this will encourage a better palliative care system.  Our society can and should do both:  choice and care.”

BASW Chief Executive Bridget Robb explains the Association’s position on Assisted Dying: “BASW’s PEHR Committee is of the view that any proposed law changes should be considered with extreme caution as there are very significant dangers in any compromising or undermining of the inherent value of all human lives.

“Our society, historically and currently, has discriminated against those with severe disabilities, chronic illness and old age. Any ‘dependency’ tends to be viewed as socially undesirable rather than something which is part of life. These attitudes can often be internalised by people, consciously or unconsciously.

“The social work profession also has experience and evidence of the need to safeguard adults and children from abuse. Should any legislative changes be proposed, the profession has a particular responsibility to ensure that this issue is fully considered by Parliament and the general public. Firm and tight medical and legal safeguards would be required so no-one can be pressured in any way to die. The institutionalisation or normalisation of an expectation that anyone will choose to end their life should be totally avoided so that any ‘right to die’ never becomes a ‘duty to die’.

“Access to comprehensive specialist support and holistic care in hospices or at home is not universally available. Extra resources and training are required to ensure good practice in pain control and the proper integration of support to those who are dying, whether in their own homes, hospitals, or residential care.”

BASW Black Country Branch Seminar 'A Right to Die - a Debate about Assisted Dying' will be held on Friday 18th March 2016 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Venue: University of Wolverhampton, Lecture Room MC001, Millennium City Building, Wulfrana Street, City Campus South, Wolverhampton, WV1 1LY

This event is free to attend and open to all.

To book your place, register HERE