Health minister backs euthanasia reform

Sept. 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

LONDON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- A top British health official says it is "appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life" and she will seek to have assisted suicide laws relaxed.

Anna Soubry, the newly appointed under-secretary of state for health, said current laws on voluntary euthanasia need to "evolve" to let people die at home, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Soubry said she does not agree with allowing doctors to end patients' lives, but said the country needs to change its laws on the prosecution of friends or family who assist in the suicide of a terminally ill patient.

Currently, assisted suicide can be punished by as much as 14 years in prison. Since 2009, 60 cases of assisted suicide have been referred to prosecutors; 42 of those cases did not go to trial, nine were withdrawn, and inquiries are continuing in the others.

"I think it's ridiculous and appalling that people have to go abroad to end their life instead of being able to end their life at home," Soubry said. "The rules that we have about who we don't prosecute allow things to happen but there's a good argument that we should be a bit more honest about it."

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