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Leeds Salon - Should We Legalise Assisted Dying?

As part of the Battle of Ideas 2013 festival of debate*, Leeds Salon is hosting a satellite event on the theme of assisted dying.

The question of assisted dying has rarely been out of the media spotlight in recent years. Although the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill was blocked by the House of Lords in 2006, a spate of TV dramas, documentary films, and high-profile cases have lead to renewed debate about introducing a change to the law to assist terminally ill people who request the ‘right to die’; including a new Assisted Dying Bill tabled before the House of Lords in May 2013.

Proponents of assisted dying aim to give people the ability to control their destiny. But many are also concerned that loosening the law would be a slippery slope leading to an increasing prevalence of assisted suicide, and would open the door to euthanasia. Others worry a change to the law would signal a cultural acceptance of suicide more generally. Critics, both secular and religious, oppose any new legislation. They emphasise the value of life and argue for a focus on prolonging life or on palliative care, suggesting that legalising assisted dying would irretrievably transform the relationship between doctors and patients. Advocates of assisted dying retort that legalisation would allow the practice to be publicly regulated and scrutinised.

Does the right to die at the time and manner that one wishes follow directly from the right to choose how one lives? Or should suicide always be discouraged? How does the concept of ‘dignity’ fit in to this discussion? And why has the assisted dying debate come to assume such cultural and political importance in recent years?


Raymond Tallis - philosopher, cultural critic and, until recently, a physician and clinical scientist. He is currently chair of Healthcare Professional for Assisted Dying.

Kevin Yuill - historian and author of Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

Lynn Hagger - co-author of A Good Death? Law and Ethics in Practice (Ashgate, 2013), Lecturer in Law, Sheffield University, and a non-executive Director on Leeds Teaching NHS Trust Board.

Peter D. Williams - speaker for Catholic Voices, a media speakers bureau that argues the Catholic Church's case in the public square.


Pauline Hadaway - Director of Belfast Exposed Gallery.

(For fuller biographies and readings, visit:

Admission: £5 waged/£3 unwaged - to pay on the door to the Millennium Room.

*The Battle of Ideas 2013 is two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate organised by the Institute of Ideas, and held on Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th October at the Barbican, London. The Battle of Ideas festival comprise over 80 debates and satellite discussions confronting society’s big issues and unresolved questions. It affords the opportunity for some clear thinking, rational; debate and agenda-setting. For more information and tickets, visit the Battle of Ideas website:

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  • Pascal

    No longer able to attend as I need to prepare for a meetup I am hosting tomorrow.

    October 1, 2013

  • Albert M.

    I have had the experiance of seeing a love one dying a\ slow death and wishing for an end also seeing my mother dying of starvation in a hospital. It is worse than capital punishment when are we going to show compassion to the terminal ill?

    September 9, 2013

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