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Terminally ill right-to-die back in Lords

9th November 2005

A revision of the proposed bill enabling doctors to help terminally ill people die, will be introduced to the House of Lords.

The bill, that has been reworked after it was last seen by the House in October, outlines a doctors right to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for terminally ill patients for them to take themselves.

The previous bill also contained the right for doctors to assist in the death, but this has been removed from the new proposals.

Lord Joffe, a former human rights lawyer who introduced the bill, told the BBC he felt very strongly about assisted dying.

"It seems to me to be a human right to make a decision in relation not only to how you run your life, but how and when you die," he said.

"Some terminally-ill patients suffer terrible deaths and the bill is all about preventing unnecessary suffering," he added.

According to Lord Joffe the legislation also contained safeguards against abuse.

The proposal requires that two doctors state that the patient has less than six months to live, the patient signs two individual declarations for the procedure and one of these is witnessed by a solicitor.

However, the bill still has many critics with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams saying that life is "a gift from God that we cannot treat as a possession of our own".