MPs will vote on a proposal to introduce "assisted dying" for the terminally ill across England and Wales on 11 September. The House of Commons debate comes after Labour MP Rob Marris tabled his private members' bill on the issue.
The draft legislation would allow terminally ill people to be given a deadly dose of drugs so long as they have six months or less left to live and two doctors have signed the act off. The bill would also introduce a "conscience clause" so doctors and nurses would not have to get involved with the procedure.
The proposal is effectively a re-run of Lord Falconer's 2014 bill, which failed to get through parliament, and has the support of campaign group Dignity in Dying. "A change in the law on assisted dying would not lead to more deaths, rather it would lead to less suffering for those dying people who want the choice to control how and when they die," the organisation has argued.
The assisted dying bill
Elsewhere, Tory backbencher Nus Ghani has explained in IBTimes UK why she is backing the bill and The Telegraph has reported three ministers are expected to defy David Cameron's opposition to the draft legislation and support Marris's bill.
But top legal expert Lord Carlile QC told IBTimes UK the proposal could increase the risk of suicide among vulnerable people and the Liberal Democrat peer claimed the safeguards in the bill are not strong enough.
"If we introduce this legislation, we will be raising the risks of vulnerable people wishing to commit suicide because they feel that they are saving trouble for their families or to avoid financial worries, and there is the potential for undue influence," he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is among a group of faith leaders who are also opposed to the bill. "The evidence around the world is that there is a slippery slope and that once you cross this line and say that we accept that part of the role of medicine is deliberately to kill people, that there is always pressure to go a little bit further," the Church of England man told Channel 5 News on 9 September.
"I've watched all kinds of different deaths over time, and as a carer I've done that, and I've felt that sense of 'I wish it was all over' and yet come back to the point that that is not giving life its full value."