During my 10 years as a voter I never imagined that I could bring myself to support Labour – the party that, I believe, irrevocably damaged the social fabric of our country after coming to power in 1997, and would continue tearing away at it if they win the next election. But that is exactly what I am going to hold my nose and do on May 7.
To be clear, my vote is not going to my local MP, Kate Hoey, because she represents the Labour party. There are other reasons. For one, I no longer have any confidence in the Conservatives. Another is that Hoey had the integrity to support Fiona Bruce’s amendment to end sex-selective abortion. But primarily I am voting for her because she has said she will not support Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill.
You may have seen this website, Where do they stand?, which documents the positions of MPs and parliamentary candidates on key pro-life issues. This initiative incentivises Catholics to look beyond political allegiances and vote according to whether the candidate in question will take every opportunity to protect and defend the unborn child, the severely disabled, and the terminally ill. It is an excellent resource.
But sadly there are few candidates who will tick every box. It is not unheard of for a candidate to be outspokenly pro-abortion but opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicice. Diane Abbott MP is just one example.
The recent vote on sex-selective abortion was a wake-up call on how anaesthetised politicians have become to the rights of the unborn child. Given the opportunity to legislate in favour of protecting baby girls, pro-choice MPs mobilised to ensure this attempt was crushed, all in the name of women’s rights. At the risk of sounding defeatist, it is evident that very little progress on beginning-of-life issues is likely to emerge in the next few years, especially in light of the three-parent embryo result and particularly while the abortion industry seems to hold our parliamentarians in a tight headlock.
But assisted suicide is still something we can reasonably resist and that is why there is a strong pragmatic case for prioritising this issue when deciding how to vote.
It is nauseating to think about the cultural and social implications of an assisted suicide law. Many were rightly horrified to hear about the vile mob who encouraged a suicidal man to jump to his death. Such revulsion is symptomatic of a healthy society. Our collective horror demonstrates that suicide is not something we encourage under any circumstances no matter how ill or depressed an individual feels.
But if Lord Falconer’s Bill is ratified in the next Parliament, we will become a society which says that a certain category of person is fit for suicide. Overnight, terminal illness will downgrade you to the status of a second-class citizen; less worthy of the law’s protection, which clearly states that aiding and abetting suicide is a crime. And, of course, lethal assitance will be administered by doctors – respected pillars of society – sanitising and normalising over time something which was once considered dangerous and deviant.
We are fortunate to live in a society which entitles us to decide what is a priority for each of us when we vote, if we choose to vote. But the most significant political, moral and social battle in 50 years is lurking on the horizon and we need all the fight we can possibly muster.