I have already challenged the idea that Lord Falconer's 'commission' on assisted dying (note my refusal to use capital letters) should be referred to as a commission or that it should be considered to be in any way 'independent'. I'm told that this 'commission' was suggested by the pressure group, Dignity in Dying which used to be known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. I just thought it would be helpful to readers of this blog if I ran through just who these 'independent' and 'open-minded' 'commissioners' are.
1) Lord Falconer - Chair and longstanding campaigner for the legalisation of assisted suicide, who attempted to legislate during the last Parliament.
2) Baroness Murphy of Aldgate - who supported the attempts by Lord Falconer to change the law in the last Parliament.
3)Baroness Young of Old Stone - who also supported the attempts by Lord Falconer to change the law in the last Parliament.
4)Penny Mordaunt MP - a colleague of mine who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on 'Choice at the End of Life'. I believe Dignity in Dying acts as secretariat to this APPG.
5)Stephen Duckworth - Chair of Disability Matters Limited, which I'm told is a private business which ceased trading in 2010. Despite all the major disability rights organisations being opposed to a change in the law, Stephen Duckworth is a rare supporter from the disability movement.
6)Prof. Sam Almedzai - a palliative medicine specialist, who supports legalisation of assisted suicide, even though I'm told that 95% of such specialists are opposed to a change in the law.
7)Dr Carole Dacombe - another palliative medicine specialist. Another of the 5%.
8)Lord Blair of Boughton - another firm public supporter of legalisation of assisted suicide.
9)Sir Graeme Catto - a retired renal specialist who has spoken publicly about his support for assisted suicide.
10)Dame Denise Platt - views not known.
11)Rev. Dr. James Woodward - views not known.
12)Celia Grandison-Markey - views not known.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the opinions that the above hold. We are considering a highly sensitive and complex issue. Dignity in Dying is an effective and genuine campaigning group. Several of my friends are supporters of it. Individuals hold strong opinions on all sides. But there is no way that the above group of people can be regarded as 'independent'.