The Assisted Dying Bill was recently debated in the House of Lords and appears to have a better chance of becoming law than three similar Bills introduced into Parliament in the last decade.
The latest Bill is the response to a 2012 report from the Commission on Assisted Dying, since which time a number of influential cases on the 'right to die' have been considered by the courts, most recently one in which the Supreme Court ruled that whether UK law on the subject is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights is a matter for Parliament to decide.
If enacted, the Bill would make it lawful for a terminally ill person to be assisted to end their life if they have a 'clear and settled' intention to do so and have made a declaration to that effect in appropriate form. It is also a requirement that the person making the declaration must be aged 18 or over on the day the declaration is made and have been resident in England or Wales for not less than one year.
The Bill has led to a great deal of spirited debate and, if passed, is likely to be accompanied by considerable safeguards against the obvious dangers inherent in such legislation. In its present form, it has attracted significant criticism.
Until the law is changed, it remains a criminal offence to assist another person to terminate his or her own life.