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Disabled would be put in danger by legalisation of assisted dying, DPAC activist warns

DISABLED people would be put in danger by any legalisation of assisted dying, a leading campaigner said today after Sir Keir Starmer indicated that Labour would take up the issue in Parliament.

Sir Keir spoke out after Dame Esther Rantzen called for a new Commons vote on assisted dying, revealing she has registered with Switzerland’s death clinic Dignitas since she has stage four lung cancer.

He said he believed there were “ grounds for changing the law,” but it would need to be handled carefully and made subject to a free vote by MPs.

However, Disabled People Against Cuts co-founder Linda Burnip told the Morning Star that assisted dying would be “dangerous” given the demonisation of disabled people and funding pressures on health and social care.

“While disabled and older people are viewed as a financial burden and vilified by politicians, assisted dying would be very dangerous to introduce’” she said.

“The Netherlands, where many older people appear to be denied healthcare, is one example of this danger.”

The legalisation of assisted dying in the Netherlands has been extended to children and people with mental health problems. In Canada, the Medical Assistance in Dying (Maid) programme has been criticised for offering death as a “treatment plan” for vulnerable people who cannot afford care. Canada’s Medical Association Journal published research in 2017 outlining the huge savings the country’s healthcare system could make through offering euthanasia instead of care.

Sir Keir backed assisted dying in a parliamentary vote in 2015, when it was opposed by his predecessor as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who warned it would “put the most vulnerable people at risk.”

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