Tory MP moved to tears during assisted dying debate (2024)

Tory MP Siobhan Baillie was moved to tears tonight as she spoke of how a constituent's mother pleaded for death in her final weeks.

In a parliamentary debate on assisted dying, Ms Baillie shared the testimony of a man who had written to her about his mother's death.

The Stroud MP said the man's mother had 'considered taking her own life as her best friend had actually done', but did not, despite being deeply unwell.

She added: 'She also went on to plead for death in the final weeks, it took 16 weeks for her to die, effectively from starvation, and I mention this gentleman because he said that when my mum was dying…'

As the Conservative backbencher began crying, she went on: 'This is hard. We all get these.'

The emotionally-charged debate on assisted dying in Westminster Hall had been prompted by a petition that gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

The petition was backed by TV presenter Dame Esther Rantzen, 83, who has stage four lung cancer.

She has said a change in the law 'would mean that I could look forward in confidence to a death which is pain-free surrounded by people I love'.

Tory MP Siobhan Baillie was moved to tears as she spokeduring a parliamentary debate on assisted dying of how a constituent's mother pleaded for death in her final weeks

Pro-assisted dying campaigners gathered outside Parliament as MPs debated changing the law

Those opposed to a change in the law also gathered outside Parliament

The emotionally-charged debate on assisted dying had been prompted by a petition that gathered more than 200,000 signatures and was backed by TV's Dame Esther Rantzen

Fellow broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, who gathered outside Parliament today with protesters in support of a change in the law on assisted dying, called on politicians to 'get off the fence' on the issue.

During her contribution to the Westminster Hall debate, Ms Baillie said her constituents had 'contacted me in droves about this matter'.

And she acknowledged how her constituents' experiences had 'changed my views' on the issue.

As Ms Baillie shared some of the correspondence she has received, she told MPs how one man had sent her a 'very thoughtful, long correspndence' about his mother.

'The weeks through her illness was actually rather life-affirming, his mum considered taking her own life as her best friend had done through a terminal diagnosis,' the MP said.

'But she didn't and she told us she was glad she hadn't because she would have missed out on the experience of so much love from family and carers.

'Yet she alsowent on to plead for death in the final weeks, it took 16 weeks for her to die, effectively from starvation, and I mention this gentleman because he said that when my mum was dying…'

As her voice cracked with emotion, Ms Baillie added:'This is hard. We all get these.'

Continuing to read out the man's testimony, she went on: 'I promised myself that I at the very least would write a letter.

'And I would write this letter to my MP so that the bitter disagreement with the law and my experience would be on record and known, and thank you for taking the time for it.'

Ms Baillie agreed with Conservative former minister David Davis about the need for a lengthy debate on assisted dying, telling MPs: 'We have to have days on this. This has to be very thought-through and a big debate with everybody involved.'

Mr Davis, the former Brexit secretary, had earlierrecalled his mother's 'miserable' death from brain and lung cancer, in contrast to a constituent's father's death, which he said had been described to him as having been a 'beautiful death' at Dignitas.

He said: 'I have come to the conclusion that as long as extremely strict controls are put in place, so that no-one feels pressurised to end their life, I am supportive of the legalisation of assisted dying.'

Fellow Tory MP Kit Malthouse paid tribute to Dame Esther's intervention in the public debate on assisted dying.

It saw British people stand up and listen, and now many are left wondering why MPs 'stand for the status quo', he said.

'When, as members have already stated in the room, the status quo is appalling,' Mr Malthouse added.

He said an inaccurate view of the country as a place 'teeming with granny-killers' has been presented in the argument against a change in the law.

'They don't understand that the vast majority of the British people, they love their parents, they love their grandparents, they want the best for them,' he continued.

Tory former minister Therese Coffey said she would not support changing the law, telling MPs: 'No-one should feel such a burden on their family, their friends and society that they should end their lives early, and that is why today I will upset several of my constituents.

'I do hold a different view to them on this matter, as I have consistently, and I continue to want to make no changes to the law, and leave it as it stands.'

Assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

In Scotland, it is not a specific criminal offence but assisting the death of someone can leave a person open to being charged with murder or other offences.

A Bill was introduced in Scotland in March – the third time members of the Scottish Parliament will have considered the issue – with two previous attempts to change the law defeated.

Campaigners both for and against legal reform gathered outside Parliament on Monday afternoon.

Dimbleby, who gathered with pro-change campaigners today, has previously described the current law as 'increasingly unbearable' following the death of his younger brother Nicholas, who suffered with motor neurone disease (MND).

In a message to MPs, he said: 'Get off the fence, don't sit on your hands, have a proper full debate about all the implications, and at the end of that I am sure they will introduce legislation.'

He described the Not Dead Yet protest being held next to the Dignity in Dying demonstration as impassioned but unreasonable, saying some of the slogans were 'scare stories that I wish that people wouldn't deploy because of their own very strong feelings'.

Tory MP moved to tears during assisted dying debate (2024)

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