Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Legalise Murder?

Well, not what most people would consider murder. At the moment, Euthanasia or 'mercy killing' is dealt with in the same way as if a person had been murdered, regardless of whether the individual gave their consent to ending their own life.

It's been bought up again now by Tony Nicklinson who wants his wife to be allowed to end his life because he feels his life isn't worth living after an accident left him with locked-in syndrome i.e. he's completely paralysed and can only communicate by blinking. Whatever you think about the law, everyone will agree it's a truly horrendous way to live.

I think there is clearly something wrong with the way our law stands as it is, it seems to be one of the only areas where we accept vagueness, and its one of the most important areas. Debbie Purdy had to fight hard just to get them to clarify the law even a little and tell her whether her husband would be prosecuted if he travelled with her whilst she went to Switzerland to die.

As it stands, go abroad and help someone die and you will likely not face any charges. But do it in your own country and you will be charged with murder. That just seems wrong to me.

It's almost as if we know that there is something morally right about letting people end their lives if they feel they can't go on as they are and there is no hope of recovery, but we want to wash our hands of it and so send them abroad.

There is of course the danger that if you make it too lenient in favour of euthanasia then people may feel obliged to end their lives to stop being a hindrance to carers and we can't have a situation where people feel they ought to die in order to reduce a burden on others. It should be a decision based entirely on how they feel.

I suppose where you stand on this subject has a lot to do with whether you feel there are worse things in life than death. I personally think there are. Death is something everyone goes through, but the vast vast majority of people will never feel anything close to the misery that some people have to go through before dying. I'm not saying everyone with locked in syndrome would be better off being allowed to die, but if someone feels their life is so bad that death is preferable, who are we to judge?

Feel free to tell me why you agree or disagree with me, there is always more than one firmly held opinion on something like this.

1 comment:

Unbiased Opinion. said...

Agreed. I think in Holland the doctor has to have known the patient for 6 months before aiding them with suicide to make sure that it's their own decision and that they're exercising autonomy. But then, I don't know whether or not it's actually stuck to. Apparently only around half of euthanasia cases are reported.

Also, on the subject of going abroad for euthanasia, it could also mean that someone dies sooner than they actually want to because they're afraid of being too weak to make the journey.

I don't know how many doctors would actually be comfortable with legalising euthanasia though.