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MPs back assisted suicide guidance

MPs have backed the Director of Public Prosecutions over guidance on when to prosecute cases of assisted suicide.

The Commons agreed without a vote to endorse Keir Starmer's "realistic and compassionate" guidelines, produced two years ago following right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy's legal battle.

After a five-hour debate, MPs also agreed to a call to encourage the development of specialist palliative care and hospice provision for the terminally ill.

Opening a backbench-led debate, Conservative MP Richard Ottaway, for Croydon South, said the guidance - which outlines how those with good motives who helped a loved-one end their life should not be pursued by the law - was "realistic and compassionate".

A recent poll found 82% of people supported the guidelines, Mr Ottaway said, telling MPs it was not in the "public interest" to prosecute someone for ending a friend or relative's life.

In the first major debate on the issue in the Commons since 1997, Mr Ottaway said the law had previously failed to distinguish between a manipulative individual who coerced somebody to take their own life, and a relative who cared round-the-clock for a terminally ill patient.

Labour's Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, supported legalising assisted suicide after his cancer-stricken, 87-year-old father gassed himself last July.

Fighting back tears, Mr Blomfield said his father did not want to end his life bed-ridden and relying on 24-hour care like many of his friends.

The MP added: "He wasn't in pain but he couldn't face the indignity of that lingering, degrading death.

"I am sure he made up his mind soon after receiving a terminal diagnosis for lung cancer."

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