Medical professionals and religious leaders have warned colleagues against supporting a new attempt to loosen the assisted dying law.
On Friday, the House of Lords will discuss a new bill to allow terminally ill adults to legally seek assistance to end their lives.
Activists say a change in the law would give them more control over how and when they die.
But opponents argue that a change in the law would threaten vulnerable people.
The bill, proposed by independent peer Baroness Meacher, would change legislation in England and Wales since 1961 banning assisted death.
Currently, anyone who judges to have witnessed suicide or attempted suicide of another person can be jailed for up to 14 years.
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The proposed new law would allow sane adults six months or less to live to receive death drugs.
The person who wants to end their life should sign a declaration approved by two doctors, signed by the High Court.
Baroness Meacher said her bill would help a “small but significant number of dying people avoid unwanted suffering at the end of their lives.”
However, a group of 1,689 current and retired doctors, pharmacists, and medical students urged colleagues to reject it.
In an open letter to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, they said a change in the law “would threaten the ability of society to safeguard vulnerable patients from abuse” and “undermine the public’s trust in doctors.”
“It would send a clear message to our frail, elderly and disabled patients about the value society places on them as people,” they added.
The proposed amendment to the law also drew criticism from Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Catholic Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
In a letter addressed to their peers, the religious figures recorded their “deep concern” about the bill, arguing that the proposed safeguards contained “practical inadequacies”.
They wrote: “We recognize that Baroness Meacher is trying to alleviate the suffering.
“We share this motivation wholeheartedly, but we disagree on the means advanced to address this very real concern.
“The goal of a compassionate society should be assisted living rather than the acceptance of assisted suicide,” they added.
Previous failed invoices
Baroness Meacher’s bill is the latest in a series of bills proposed by lawmakers to try to change the assisted dying law in recent years.
The peer revealed that the death of a family member had left “an indelible mark” as she reflected on how a relative with liver cancer had taken his own life more than 40 years ago.
She said, “I just thought, how lonely is he? What a horror. And she couldn’t be sure it would work. In fact, it did. That left an indelible mark on me.”
The proposal follows similar bills by Labor colleague Lord Falconer and former Labor MP Rob Marris, both of which failed to become law.
As a private member’s bill starting in the Lords, Baroness Meacher’s bill is unlikely to succeed because it does not have priority to be discussed in the Commons.
The Ministry of Justice says that a change in the law “in an area of such sensitivity” should be an issue on which parliamentarians, not the government, should take a stand.
A similar bill aiming to legalize assisted dying in Scotland was also tabled by Liberal Democrat member Liam McArthur.
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