CNA Staff, Nov 6, 2020 / 04:05 am
U.K. health secretary Matt Hancock said Thursday that people traveling abroad for assisted suicide would not be breaking strict new coronavirus lockdown rules in England.
Hancock told MPs Nov. 5 that the authorities would consider going to another country for assisted suicide a “reasonable excuse” for leaving home under new lockdown regulations.
He said: “Under the current law, based on the Suicide Act 1961, it is an offense to encourage or assist the death of another person. However, it is legal to travel abroad for the purpose of assisted dying where it is allowed in that jurisdiction.”
“The new coronavirus regulations, which come into force today, place restrictions on leaving the home without a reasonable excuse; traveling abroad for the purpose of assisted dying is a reasonable excuse, so anyone doing so would not be breaking the law.”
He insisted that the new regulations did not constitute a legal change on assisted suicide.
The government has suspended public worship during the four-week lockdown, to the consternation of religious leaders.
Hancock was responding to a question from the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, who argued that the new rules, due to last until Dec. 2, could “deter” people in England from traveling to Switzerland for assisted suicide.
“That will undoubtedly cause many more Britons to suffer as they die, due to a lack of a safeguarded law here in the U.K.,” he argued.