Monday, August 31, 2015

A barrier that should not be crossed

Britain is inching towards legalised euthanasia. Make no mistake, Britain will have legalised euthanasia - unless people get their act together and stand up for the laws we already have.

In Holland, where euthanasia is permitted, it is admitted that people are now being killed without a request on their part. In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, children are able to ask to be killed, and psychiatric patients are being put to death. It couldn't happen here? Oh yes, it could.

Well financed organisations here in favour of euthanasia have decided that assisted suicide should be the first step. There have been umpteen attempts to revise the law in recent years. All have failed - so far. Lord Falconer's assisted dying bill in the Lords ran out of time in the last Parliament. Labour MP Rob Marris has taken up his cause in the Commons. His bill will have its second reading in the next two weeks.

We are told that a majority of people are in favour of allowing assisted suicide. We are fed with a steady stream of high profile stories of a small number of people apparently in desperate straits. Why should they have to go to Switzerland? Why shouldn't they be allowed to decide when to end their own lives, and have help when they need it?

Hard cases make bad law. Permitting assisted suicide would place intolerable pressure on  elderly and sick who feel they are a burden to relatives.

A group of almost 80 doctors have written an open letter to MPs, published in the Telegraph. "We regularly come across patients who feel a burden to their relatives and to society." Assisted suicide proposals, they say, devalue the most vulnerable in society.

Some families would use the law to exert pressure on relatives. "Most families are loving and caring, but some are not. We do from time to time come across cases where there are signs of subtle pressures being exerted. These are difficult to prove, but they can be very real, and we fear that if Parliament were to legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill people, they would be given free rein." 

The discussion and vote at the second reading of the Marris bill is on September 11. September 11 is a Friday. Some MPs leave early on Fridays to go home or to their constituencies for the weekend. A number of MPs have indicated that they will not be there for the vote. If it passes at second reading, they say, it will still be possible to prevent it from becoming law.

But a victory for the pro-euthanasia lobby at second reading would be a tremendous psychological boost and make it much more difficult to prevent awarding the bill further parliamentary time in the future. Write or visit your MP and point out that it is vital to attend the vote. If you require further information, you will find all you need here or here.

Parliament has never hitherto been willing to condone doctors' taking innocent human life. That's a barrier that should never be crossed. What we need is good quality care, not killing.

The law has only to be changed once. If it changes, it will change forever.

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