Exploring public views on assisted dying

Public dialogue

Current project

A public engagement project to explore people's views on assisted dying in England.

AD image from HVM Feb 2024
AD image from HVM Feb 2024

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Background

Assisted dying is a highly complex, sensitive, and ethically charged topic. Many jurisdictions worldwide do not permit assisted dying but there has been an increasing number considering or passing legislation to permit it in recent years.

Some form of assisted dying is legal in at least 27 jurisdictions, including all six states in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, ten states in the USA, and the Netherlands. The law in jurisdictions that permit some form of assisted dying varies on eligibility and governance.

Whilst assisted dying is not permitted in England, and despite the longstanding ethical debate on the topic, there is a gap in robust qualitative evidence on public views towards assisted dying and the underpinning social, ethical, and practical issues raised by the subject in England. Most available data exploring public perspectives on assisted dying in England are based on opinion polls which often do not capture relevant complexities involved. This lack of in-depth evidence is frequently referenced in political discussions as a reason for not revisiting the topic and when we engaged with experts across the UK Government and the health policy sector, we heard that quality evidence on public opinion would be a welcome contribution to informing the conversation on assisted dying.

Our project

Our work seeks to explore public views on assisted dying in England and the associated social, ethical, and practical considerations that people consider important in forming their views and in their deliberations. We have commissioned Hopkins Van Mil who will be partnering with M.E.L Research and the Sortition Foundation to design, facilitate, and organise a series of surveys and a Citizens’ Jury to unpack people's perspectives on assisted dying and the associated social, ethical, and practical considerations that underpin them.

The overarching questions the Jury will consider are:

1. Should the law in England be changed to permit assisted dying?

  • What are the most important reasons in favour of permitting assisted dying?
  • What are the most important reasons against permitting assisted dying?

2. If the law is changed to permit assisted dying in England, what should it include? What should it exclude?

3. If the law is not changed to permit assisted dying in England, are there any recommendations or changes to assisted dying policy that should be made?

We will not be publishing our own recommendations or an organisational position on assisted dying, or the ethics of assisted dying, as part of this project. Our focus will be on supporting an informed public conversation on the topic and publishing the findings from the public engagement and survey work.

Contact us

If you would like to contact us about this project, please email us on ADpublicengagement@nuffieldbioethics.org

To speak to a member of our Press team, please call: +44 (0)7436 931958

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