The right-to-die movement in the U.K. suffered a major setback Friday, with MPs in the House of Commons voting against a bill that would have allowed terminally patients to end their lives with the help of a physician.
Introduced into Parliament by Labour MP Rob Marris, the bill was defeated by a margin of 330 to 118 in a free vote, according to the BBC. British MPs last rejected a pro-assisted dying bill in 1997.
Over the last several months, advocates in the U.K. mounted a splashy campaign to change their country’s laws on assisted dying. The movement attracted high-profile endorsements from luminaries such as actor Patrick Stewart, physicist Stephen Hawking and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
According to a poll commissioned by the U.K. organization Dignity and Dying, 82 per cent of the British population agree that terminally ill patients facing immense suffering should have the right to die with the help of a doctor.
“It’s great that we’ve had the first substantive debate in the House of Commons for almost twenty years," said Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, in a Friday statement. "This is an important first step in changing the law for terminally ill people. However the vote only goes to show just how ridiculously out of touch MPs are with the British public on the issue."
To learn more, read coverage about the assisted dying vote on the BBC’s website.