Novelists Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Deborah Moggach and the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion are among the signatories to a letter calling on the next government to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill people.
In a letter to the Telegraph, the writers joined signatories including comedian Jo Brand, actor Hugh Grant, journalist Anna Ford and philosopher A C Grayling, chair of this year's Man Booker Prize judges, to say that the Assisted Dying Bill should be made law, and “if there is not enough time for the Bill to complete its stages before the general election then it is imperative that Parliament continues this important debate afterwards”.
“Currently one Briton a fortnight ends their life in the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland,” the letter said. “For each person who travels abroad, 10 terminally ill people are taking their own lives in this country. The 2014 Reith lecturer, Dr Atul Gawande, has said that “we are heartless if we don’t recognise unbearable suffering and seek to alleviate it”. Most people in Britain support law change on assisted dying, and no one believes that someone should face a prison sentence of 14 years for compassionately assisting a loved one to die.
“We are closer than ever to allowing dying people to have safeguarded choice in how they approach their deaths. Whoever forms the next government must allow time for Parliament to reach consensus on a safeguarded law.”