MPs have voted to reject the Assisted Dying Bill introduced by Rob Marris MP.
The vote, which came after almost five hours of impassioned debate on both sides, resulted in 330 against the Bill and 118 in favour, a majority of 212.
The Bill, proposed by Labour MP Rob Marris, was based on Lord Falconer’s Bill which ran out of time in the House of Lords before the general election.
It would have allowed people with fewer than six months to live to be prescribed a lethal dose of drugs; they would have to be capable of taking these themselves. Every case would have had to be approved by two doctors and a High Court judge.
When the issue was last debated in Parliament in 1997 it was rejected by 234 to 89.
In a statement Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, the chairman of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship for the bishops’ conference, said he now hoped that “excellent practice in palliative care” would become a focus of political action.
He said: “I welcome Parliament’s recognition of the grave risks that this bill posed to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable people. There is much excellent practice in palliative care which we need to celebrate and promote, and I hope now the debate on assisted suicide is behind us, that this will become a focus for political action.
“I am encouraged by the participation of so many Catholics throughout England and Wales in this important discussion and hope that everyone involved will continue to support calls for better quality care as life nears its end.”