Posted by Eric MacDonald
In response to a blog post on the Commission on Assisted Dying’s report, which is expected to be made public on Thursday, from the blog Cranmer (“Examining Religio-Political Agendas with Politco-Religious Objectives”),
The problem is that such a Bill would implicitly determine that some lives are simply not worth living: some existences are ‘second class’.
As someone who is likely to face a rather protracted illness and lingering death (unless I am hit by a car), I can assure you that some lives are indeed inferior to others.
Being stuck in bed with needles stuck in you and nurses constantly checking that you are still clinging onto life is unquestionably inferior to going out for a nice walk and doing what I want when I want.
I have already taken the decision that – funding permitted – I will take the option to end my life when it becomes unbearable.
At the moment, I have a choice, I can leave while still fit enough to get to Switzerland, or I can hang around a bit longer, but with ever increasing risks that I will wake up one day and be too ill to make the trip.
If I am stuck in the UK, the State will then force me to linger on in ever increasing levels of discomfort and decreasing levels of dignity until medical science eventually fails to hold my shattered carcass together and I finally die.
I don’t want to die. I want to live as long as I can do so in moderate dignity.
The current system actually kills me sooner than necessary – simply because I have to die at a time when I am still fit and modestly healthy to take a trip to Switzerland.
Changing the law will let some of us wait a bit longer – maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months – before taking the final option.
Yes, some people will be pressured into death, but that already happens and there are a lot of people who “die in their sleep”, who most certainly were assisted to do so. The law on murder covers those cases, so there is no need to worry that assisted suicide would change that.
Letting people choose when to die will mean more people living for longer, and when they die, they can do so at home, surrounded by comforts and not in an impersonal Swiss industrial estate.
Why is that a bad thing?
I echo the question: Why is that a bad thing? Christians, like the man who styles himself “Archbishop Cranmer”, think that there are all sorts of dangers involved in the legalisation of assisted dying. In his post he says this:
Presently, only about 20-25 people jet out to Switzerland each year to end their lives. It is estimated that the legalisation of ‘assisted suicide’ and euthanasia would lead to 13000 deaths annually. The most vulnerable elderly and disabled would inevitably feel they were a burden on their families and society, and the terminally ill may view the option as preferable to months or years of treatment and palliative care. God alone knows how many teenagers might choose to end their lives over depression, family breakdown or unrequited love.
This just shows how the religious are reduced to empty fear-mongering over the issue of assisted dying. Sure, people can be put under pressure to die, but whether they have decided or not would be subject to review, and would have to be vetted by someone who could discern whether or not their decision was freely made. As to estimates of numbers, there is very little ground for making prognostications. The numbers in the Netherlands are only a very small fraction of deaths every year, and it is likely that this will be true of England and Wales as well. As to being a burden on their families, as Mary Warnock has repeatedly said, there is no reason why a person who feels a burden should not be able, for altruistic reasons, to decide to die, especially if other aspects of their situation seemed to make life no longer worthwhile for them. Besides, does it not happen now? Are persons never pressured into forgoing treatment or having treatment withdrawn? As for teenagers, any law legalising assisted dying would not include anyone with transient episodes of depression, as is the case in most instances of teenage suicide. People really must make some effort to be reasonable, as the person calling himself (rather pompously) ”Archbishop Cranmer” stoutly refuses to do.