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Anna Soubry: A right to die or a chance to save money?

A newly-promoted health minister has claimed that terminally ill people, who seek help to die, should be allowed to get that help in the UK.

Tory Anna Soubry said UK citizens should not have to go abroad if they really want to end their lives.

The Departments of Health and Justice were quick to pronounce the new minister’s opinions as her own, not indicative of government thinking, and to state that the government has no plans to change the law.

This is a valid issue for discussion; I certainly don’t think it’s right that health professionals should work to keep a person alive when their own body would have given up if left on its own, and they actually want to be released. To my way of thinking, that’s a little too close to torture. I’m sure some readers of this blog will be aware of other circumstances that could justify switching off healthcare.

But I have a doubt about this. Maybe my thoughts would be different if I did not know that, between January and August last year, there were 5,300 deaths in the support group of ESA claimants. This is the group that receives full support for as long as necessary – the rest of members’ natural lives.

Terminal conditions are common in this group, so I have to ask: Is this just another grubby bid to save more benefit money by killing off the claimants a little earlier than they would normally have died?