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Views of disability rights organisations on assisted dying legislation in England, Wales and Scotland: an analysis of position statements
  1. Graham Box1,
  2. Kenneth Chambaere2
  1. 1School of Law, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  2. 2End-of-Life Care Research Group, Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Ghent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Dr Graham Box, School of Law, University of Reading, Reading, UK;{at}


Assisted dying is a divisive and controversial topic and it is therefore desirable that a broad range of interests inform any proposed policy changes. The purpose of this study is to collect and synthesize the views of an important stakeholder group—namely people with disabilities (PwD)—as expressed by disability rights organisations (DROs) in Great Britain. Parliamentary consultations were reviewed, together with an examination of the contemporary positions of a wide range of DROs. Our analysis revealed that the vast majority do not have a clear public stance; those that do exhibit a significant diversity of opinion. DROs opposing legislation on assisted dying have argued that it would be premature, misguided, inequitable and culturally undesirable. Some specify conditions that would have to be satisfied before they could support legalisation, such as radical improvements in health and social care services (especially those relating to end of life care) and the elimination of discrimination against PwD. DROs supporting assisted dying maintain that a change in the law would promote autonomy, end intense suffering, can be delivered safely and is supported by the DRO’s membership. The discussion considers the reasons why several DROs adopt a neutral stance and the argument is made that, whatever their overarching stance on the issue, DROs need to be involved in the policy debate so that the crucial perspectives of PwD are heard and addressed. This is an important message for countries around the world that permit, or are considering legalising, assisted dying.

  • assisted suicide
  • disability
  • public policy
  • public law
  • assisted dying
  • euthanasia

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are simply a spreadsheet capturing the views of DROs and a series of documents that describe their public positions on assisted dying/assisted suicide.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.