Why I am against assisted suicide

…despite its advocates’ understandable motives, the truth is that assisted suicide is the antithesis of compassion. Allowing people to kill themselves in times of despair means assuming that life is only worth living if it is wholly pleasant – that it is better to be dead than sick, infirm or disabled. In fact, happiness is a moveable feast – great health or wealth provides no guarantee of joy. Often those whom we patronisingly assume must be miserable most cherish their existence. To give doctors the power to take the life of patients based on a subjective measurement of utility would mean a terrifying loss of individual autonomy and personal choice.

There is a real risk of assisted dying descending down the slippery slope of unintended consequences. How severe must someone’s illness be before they are enabled to die? We know that a woman with depression was euthanized in the Netherlands, and the family of a 38-year-old autism sufferer have complained she was killed by request, without required documentation, after ending a love affair. Even more disturbingly – given what happened in living memory in Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao’s China etc – it is hardly unreasonable to fear that a culture of assisted dying could end in the euthanasia of those with disabilities or physical abnormalities or even on the basis of race, religion or belief.

Those who wrongly believe themselves to be a burden on society or their family would feel enormous pressure to take their own life. We should never give vulnerable people the impression that they have a ‘duty to die’. Rather, we all have a duty to care.

Moreover, many doctors are deeply opposed to the idea that they should become judges of life and death, as they’re given, against their will, the responsibility not just to heal, but to judge whether to take the life of a patient…

Read more at Spalding Today…

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