Major implications of euthanasia are ignored
THE call by B J Connell, (The Herald, September 20) for the Government and medical profession to change the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide, fills me with foreboding and confirms the power of a concerted media effort to sway public opinion through emotive BBC TV programmes and celebrities such as Sir Terry Pratchett, a patron of Dignity in Dying – formally the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
I am sure that people who want euthanasia have not thought through the implications of what they are asking especially as people who are nearing the end of their life value life far more, despite illness and age related problems, than those under 50 years of age.
Many people who want to die do so because of depression and their requests are cries for help. Assisted suicide is not the answer.
Parliament has debated this issue twice and each time thrown it out, because the state has a duty to protect all of its citizens especially those who are sick, disabled and vulnerable.
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The majority of doctors too, still smarting from the fallout of the Harold Shipman case, do not support assisted suicide – and rightly so – because it is a macabre type of medicine that kills instead of heals.
Who would trust a doctor giving pills to heal with one hand and pills to kill with another?
The Hippocratic Oath which states, "First, do no harm" was written precisely because doctors helped people to die or killed people in the fifth century BC.
Any law passed, would have to define the categories of people who qualify for death and this would create a scale of the most and least worthwhile lives to be lived. How many of your readers would feel safe and secure if they were old and infirm, a burden on their relatives or disabled in any way? Is it right for the law to tell the mentally or physically disabled, the chronically sick and the severely depressed that they would be better off dead?
Andrew Brown, a Guardian journalist has said that the "changing interpretations" of the law on abortion shows how proposed assisted suicide safeguards could not ultimately be trusted: "Really demented and unpleasant old people can appear rather less than human than foetuses do and the changing interpretations of the Abortion Act show how little legal safeguards are worth when the sentiment behind them evaporates."
"If a mother has the right to dispose of an unwanted foetus, why doesn't a daughter have the right to dispose of an unwanted, incoherent and incontinent old person whose miserable life will only ever get worse?" "What could be easier than to propose to such a creature that its life is not in fact worth living?"
Mr Connell alludes to the Swiss 'Dignitas' clinic where "many, many more" people have to go abroad to kill themselves rather than be able to do so here in the UK.
He is obviously not aware that since the 'Dignitas' clinic was opened in 1998 by Ludwig Minelli, out of the 60 million residents in the UK, a mere 180 British citizens have committed suicide there.
The media propaganda machine has worked well.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal in only four of the 50 sovereign states in Europe with many claims that assisted suicides are not always voluntary and that official assisted suicide and euthanasia figures in Holland are greatly massaged to the extent that many Dutch people now carry cards requesting not to be euthanised.
Laws are formulated for the common good and hard and sad cases like that of Tony Nicklinson make bad law, especially when many people with the same illness are determined to make the most of their lives.
I would ask Mr Connell to ponder the words of Jacques Attali, former President of the European Bank for reconstruction and development, "As soon as he goes beyond 60-65 years of age man lives beyond his capacity to produce, and he costs society a lot of money... euthanasia will be one of the essential instruments of our future societies".