It is amazing how long supposedly progressive and developed societies take to change, amend or even tweak legislation that devolves any more power to Joe Public. Our societies are becoming more not less restrictive. The ancient Greeks would be horrified with our current do’s and don’ts enabled by our legislature and enforced by our police and judiciary. This is the Guardian article and yes!
The Commission on Assisted Dying was set up in September 2010 and Demos has made available a 400 odd page report on its findings and recommendations here. Its terms of reference were:
· to investigate the circumstances under which it should be possible for people to be assisted to die
· to recommend what system, if any, should exist to allow people to be assisted to die
· to identify who should be entitled to be assisted to die
· to determine what safeguards should be put in place to ensure that vulnerable people are neither abused nor pressured to choose an assisted death
· to recommend what changes in the law, if any, should be introduced
Now I think they are very carefully worded aims and the Commission has been very circumspect in its recommendations and to my mind did not go far enough. After all, surveys of the public and of medical practitioners show a very substantial majority in favour of euthanasia being legalised. The Commission was far too accommodating to the religite mores that seem to abound on this island.
This is from the wiki article
Even though polling in Great Britain reveals that “80% of British citizens and 64% of Britain’s general practitioners” are in favour of euthanasia being legalised, Parliament has refused to pass any laws of (sic) the issue. In 1997, the British Parliament voted 234-89 to defeat the seventh attempt to legalize the act. The Church of England view is that “physician assisted suicide is incompatible with the Christian faith and should not be permitted by civil law.”
Seven attempts!! Good grief. When will these parliamentary representatives learn? Those of us who are part of that public majority are rightly annoyed that our parliamentary representatives are not voting to reflect our wishes. The toothless CofE still seems to have its sticky fingers into our legislative decision making. I suppose the 26 appointed bishops see themselves as arbiters of moral virtue in this island regardless of the increase in atheism in this island.
So far as I am concerned, the Commission’s recommendations are not comprehensive enough. Not that it will matter to me personally. I will exit this life when I am good and ready thank you very much.
It is a shame that Pratchett is not seen as qualifying because he has more than 12 months to live with his dementia, nor is Tony Nicklinson who suffers from locked-in syndrome and will live for more than 12 months. So, from my perspective, the recommendations actually don’t progress this issue very far at all. The unconscionable cruelty and neglect for people’s wishes still exists.
This is from the BBC’s article regarding the Commission’s recommendations:
The commission has been quite clear that a person first of all would have to be terminally ill to be considered for assisted suicide under its proposals.
The group has defined that as a patient who has less than 12 months to live.
It said that they should also be acting under their own steam and not be mentally impaired in any way.
In practice this means that dementia patients would not be eligible, including the author Sir Terry Pratchett, who helped to fund the commission, as those in the final year of the condition would not be considered mentally fit enough.
Nor would a person who has a significant physical impairment, such as locked-in syndrome, as they would have longer than 12 months to live under normal circumstances.
But a cancer patient with a prognosis of nine months would be eligible, if he or she met the other criteria.
This is tame stuff indeed. However, the religites have come out in force denouncing anything to do with suicide, assisted or not, as immoral and insupportable under their god’s supposed laws. These laws come, of course, in an ancient book, cobbled together with salient parts omitted by various rulers, by a group of illiterates in ancient lands purporting to be transcribing the word of their god. The rest of us call this fantasy visual and auditory schizophrenia, while the religites call it touched by god. Touched is right!.
I don’t have a problem with organisations like Care Not Killing, emotive though their choice of name is. Neither should they have a problem with
Terry Pratchett’s Dignity in Dying or
Philip Nitschke’s Exit International or a myriad of other Voluntary Euthanasia societies worldwide. People who want to die need the assurance that those assisting them will not be treated as criminals. So yes, the law does need changing. It needs more than the Commission has recommended though. Poor Andrew Colgan
(and how many others) had to travel to Switzerland to Dignitas to end the life he did not want to continue with. And this is the wonderful Terry Pratchett.
It is not that long ago that suicide was a crime in itself. If you failed in your attempt to kill yourself you were charged with a crime and incarcerated. It wasn’t that long ago that having an abortion was a criminal offence. Slowly, very slowly, we are getting rid of religite influence in secular affairs but it is not quick enough for me. Religion’s perceived privileged role, now aided and abetted by the Tories in the sphere of education, is galling to a growing number of us. As well it should.
There is the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society that keep trying to increase public awareness in this country; I wish they had more members and I wish more people spoke out publicly.
Come on you guys, either agree or add a comment. There are so many opinions, surely you have one.