Tanni Grey-Thompson is a former wheelchair racer and now a member of Britain’s House of Lords, which today, after more than nine hours of debate, voted to allow a bill to legalize assisted suicide to receive a second reading, a reading that took place immediately after the vote. This means that the bill has taken an important and scary step towards becoming law. It could soon be debated and voted on by “a committee of the whole house”. Several members who are opposed decided not to vote against the bill today, because they it believe should be discussed more extensively, which will happen in the next phase. If the bill were to become law, it would need to be approved for a third reading, after which a final vote would be taken. The bill would then have to go through these phases and be voted on in the House of Commons, the elected branch of the British Parliament. Members on both sides of the issue want to make their case for or against the bill, which we can still hope will be defeated.
During the debate, people with disabilities, members of Not Dead Yet UK, demonstrated outside Parliament. Lady Grey-Thompson came out to speak to them, and someone filmed the following video. In it, she speaks with great precision about why most people with disabilities fear and oppose legal assisted suicide. Already demoralized by hearing from many people, medical professionals included, in both verbal and non-verbal ways, that a life with disabilities is a life not worth living, they fear that future conversations will progress from suggestions that they might want to decline medical care for easily treatable conditions to suggestions that they might want a prescription for suicide.