Focus: Policy and Politics - Radar offers the facts on euthanasia

Nathalie Thomas

The group is adopting a non-emotive approach to a sensitive debate.

Radar is trying to cut through the emotive arguments about euthanasia by lobbying parliamentarians with a booklet of key facts and figures.

The disability rights organisation is seeking to defeat the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which is due for its second reading on Friday.

It claimed that the Private Member's Bill, proposed by the crossbench peer Lord Joffe, would be a "step backwards" in the struggle of disabled people to achieve equality in society.

"If we are seen as being 'worthy' of assisted dying, it undermines our self-confidence and self-worth, challenging our right to live equally," the charity said.

Radar hopes the booklet, which has been distributed to peers ahead of Friday's second reading, will guide parliamentarians through the sensitive and often religious debate on assisted dying.

"We discussed a range of different campaigning methods," said Chris Brace, deputy campaigns director at Radar. "Laying down the arguments on paper so that people can pick them up at their leisure was the way we thought we could get all the arguments across in a non-emotive way."

Brace said the charity was treading a careful line in its latest lobbying initiative. Although the booklet contains some individual examples, the Radar campaigns team is seeking to avoid emotional case studies, which are frequently dragged out during the debate about euthanasia, and often cloud the key arguments.

"We're very aware that, because it is such an emotive subject, individual cases can sometimes make people lose sight of the social or cultural implications," Brace said.

Instead, Radar has endeavoured to answer what it sees as some of the unanswered questions in the debate on assisted dying. It hopes that, by providing peers with a table of the main arguments and how to refute them, it will encourage more of them to stand up and contribute to the second reading debate.

"We think they are useful questions to help steer the debate in the House of Lords," said Brace. "They are there to provide a prompt to people who might want to speak."

The colour booklet, called Assisted Dying: The Facts, marks a break from the usual briefing papers and lobbying material that many voluntary organisations distribute to parliamentarians. But the 30-page document did not come at a significant cost, Brace claimed.

The text was written by the Radar campaigns team, he said, and the charity tried to minimise design costs by recycling templates from previous campaign material.

It also opted for a freelance designer over a potentially more expensive design agency. "The only costs that were involved came with the design," he said.

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