Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Voting on your 'right to die'

The BMJ's coming out in favour of legalising assisted suicide has sparked a storm. (I do not apologise for a second blog post on such a serious matter.)

Wrote Cristina Odone: "The medical profession is supposed to take in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses vulnerable to disease and dying - to care for them, not kill them off. . . Whatever happened to care, compassion and the 'do no harm' principles once embedded in good clinical practice?"

A considerable number of medical practitioners cared sufficiently to voice an opinion. One said legislation would corrupt the profession and hurt public trust. "Instead of killing patients, why not try talking to them?"

Another pointed out the UK had abolished the death penalty. "Make no mistake: the Falconer bill will reinstate the death penalty for those who do not think their lives are worth living."

"Once 'assisted suicide' is legal," wrote a third, "it is in order to persuade people to have themselves killed."

Said yet another: "I do not object to the statement that 'People should be able to exercise choice over their lives,' but I fail to understand why doctors and nurses who are devoted to saving and preserving life should do the work for them. Hospitals are places for saving lives and not for killing oneself."

I will leave the last comment to Cranmer: "Death is not simply a divine distalgesic. It is the passing of the soul to judgment and into eternity. . . This is about 'rights' and 'choice' and 'compassion' and 'dignity in dying,' because leaving it all to God is a manifest denial of rights and choice, totally lacking in compassion and devoid of any dignity whatsoever. Death can be painful and messy, so let's make it quick and clinical. . . 

"The anxieties and traumas of life are not pointless, nor is the morphine in our dying. It adds to our human experience, and witnesses to our divine purpose and profound meaning."

There are a considerable number of new members of the House of Lords, and some of them will be voting on the issue for the first time. Will you write to one or two of them and ask them not to change the law? You can find their names and addresses here.

There are now 10 days to the proposed vote.

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