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Last updated at 16:26 BST, Tuesday, 05 August 2014

Assisted dying debate

Summary

18 July 2014

A law which would allow assisted suicide is being discussed in Britain. The proposal is based on laws already in place in the US states of Oregon and Washington. It has caused controversy.

Reporter:

Fergus Walsh

Holding hands

Opponents of the proposal think it could put disabled people at risk

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Report

The Assisted Dying Bill would allow adults of sound mind with six months to live the right to end their lives at a time of their choosing.

It would be a profound step for society modelled on the law in Oregon. If experience there is a guide, it could lead to around 1,000 people a year in England and Wales choosing an assisted death.

Opponents argue it would put the frail, vulnerable and disabled at risk. Whilst it's unlikely to get sufficient backing or parliamentary time to become law, simply passing its second reading today would be significant - the first time such a bill would have done so.

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Vocabulary

of sound mind

rational, mentally healthy

modelled on

(here) following the example of

frail

physically weak

disabled

lacking some physical abilities

backing

support

significant

(here) important