Religion and law round-up – 9th November

An unexpectedly busy week: gender-selective abortion, a debate on ritual slaughter, the Lords on assisted dying, religion and property rights and more…

Assisted dying

On Friday Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill [Lords] had its first day in Committee of the whole House. The most important development was that the Committee agreed without division Amendment 4 (moved by Lord Pannick), which amended Clause 1 of the Bill so that it now reads as follows:

“1 Assisted dying

(1) A person who is terminally ill may request and lawfully be provided with assistance to end his or her own life.

(2) Subsection (1) applies only if the High Court (Family Division), by order, confirms that it is satisfied that the person—

(a) has a voluntary, clear, settled and informed wish to end his or her own life;

(b) has made a declaration to that effect in accordance with section 3; and

(c) on the day the declaration is made—

(i) is aged 18 or over; and

(ii) has the capacity to make the decision to end his or her own life; and

(iii) has been ordinarily resident in England and Wales for not less than one year.”

In short, the amendment puts the process firmly under the control of the judiciary. The Guardian reported that the move had been welcomed by campaigners in favour of assisted dying as “a major step in changing the law”. Perhaps: but we still think it unlikely to become law in what is left of the present Parliament. It still has some way to go in the Lords – and has yet to be considered by the Commons.

Abortion and sex-selection

On Tuesday (the other) Fiona Bruce (Con, Congleton) successfully sought leave to introduce her Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill in the Commons under the Ten Minute Rule: “a Bill to clarify the law relating to abortion on the basis of sex-selection; and for connected purposes”. The Bill has all-party backing but the suspicion is that its chances of reaching the statute-book are fairly remote.

Ritual slaughter Continue reading