Why Southport MP voted against Assisted Dying Bill

john pugh mp ots southport

Southport MP John Pugh has spoken about why he voted against the Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrat politician, who spoke and voted against the Bill, praised Southport’s Queenscourt Hospice for their advice and help.

Dr Pugh said: “Like many people I agonise over this subject and the suffering of the small minority of patients who die disturbing deaths even with medical help was foremost in my mind.

“I deliberately sought advice from Queenscourt and its director, Dr Karen Groves, as they see death on a daily basis and referred to them in my speech to the Commons.

“I was convinced that there were serious social risks in allowing the NHS or any body to provide a suicide service and the advice of Queenscourt re-assured me that any benefits of changing the law would be minimal and outweighed by the risks.

“It is extremely rare, I was told that the only alternative to assisted suicide was an unalleviated distressing death. For those cases it is important we improve palliative care and assist dying rather than facilitate suicide.

“One of the consequences of using ‘suicide’ as the remedy may be that palliative care is given less priority in the future.

“The hospice backed me in opposing the Bill.

“The social consequences for elderly patients, the NHS and the whole of society have to be properly considered but what was troubling about the debate was the tendency of supporters of assisted suicided to try to win the debate by talking of distressing cases where a person was NOT terminally ill.

“As the Bill on the face of it was just about people likely to die of a diagnosed terminal disease within six months, it was clear that there was a wider agenda here and that in time they hoped that assisted suicide would be more widely available. I found the approach disingenuous.

“We would be putting our foot on a slippery slope without properly factoring in the risks.”

Among those who have been campaigning for the Bill to come into law are two Southport brothers whose mum who took her own life at a Swiss clinic.

glenys-porterGlenys Porter with sons Peter Squires (left) and Andy Squires (right)

Three years ago, Andy Squires and brother Peter travelled to Zurich with mum Glenys Porter, 67, who was suffering from the advanced stages of Huntington’s disease – a neurological condition which had a severe impact on her bodily functions.

Glenys, who lived in Marshside and had worked as a jeweller, was suffering advanced stages of Huntington’s disease, a neurological disorder which had a severe impact on her bodily functions and physical movement.

With no hope of a cure, Glenys underwent an assisted death at the Dignitas organisation with the help of doctors who administered a barbiturate liquid.

Andy and Peter now campaign relentlessly to raise awareness and prompt a change in what they say is a ‘barbaric and outdated’ law.

Andy said: “What you’ve got to remember about the bill is that it’s for a terminally ill person who has no more than six months to live and who has been assessed by two doctors and found to have been of sound mind.

“I miss my mum everyday, but her suffering was unbearable and we respected her wishes to end her life.

“If your pet dog was critically ill, with no quality of life, you’d put him down. To keep him alive would be deemed inhumane and undignified. So why is it okay to do it to a human being?”

The Assisted Dying Bill was defeated last Friday.


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