Why are we opposed to Assisted Suicide?

From a clear boundary to a slippery slope

The fundamental reason why we oppose assisted suicide is that it replaces a clear and rational boundary that protects vulnerable people, with a ‘slippery slope’ that could lead to widespread abuse and distress. 

The current, clear boundary is the principle that we do not involve ourselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of other people. The legalisation of assisted suicide would replace this with a weak, artificial and arbitrary boundary – the principle that such actions are permissible for certain groups of people. 

Those calling for change wish to restrict the ‘right’ to assisted suicide to those with a terminal diagnosis of six months or less. Evidence from other jurisdictions, however, shows that any such restrictions are immediately subject to pressure. After all, the logic of assisted suicide is that anyone who wishes for help to die should receive it. Why should it be restricted to people with six months to live – rather than years of pain and distress from a disability or chronic condition? Why should you need a health condition at all to qualify – why should those who are merely ‘tired of life’ not be helped to die, as politicians in Holland are now advocating? 

The danger of assisted suicide is that it exposes vulnerable people to pressure – in their own minds or directly from family members and even medical staff – to end their lives so they are not a ‘burden’ on others. This is a reason given by over 50 per cent of the people who are helped to die in Oregon.

The ‘assisted dying’ laws passed by overseas jurisdictions also contain weak case review and enforcement systems.  Claims that there has been no abuse are therefore without any foundation. 

The alternative to assisted suicide

The argument made by the proponents of assisted suicide is that many people face the prospect of an agonising death. In fact, in recent years great strides have been made in the science of pain relief and in palliative or ‘end of life’ care. No-one needs to die an agonising, drawn-out, undignified death. The case for assisted suicide is being outpaced by science and the development of good practice. 

Rather than requiring everyone with a terminal diagnosis – which is everyone except those who die suddenly – to consider whether to request lethal drugs to end their lives early, we should offer them a real ‘right’: the right to excellent palliative care. More about what this means can be found in the next section

See posts below for further reading on the arguments and evidence against assisted suicide.

Related Posts

 

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WATCH: Euthanasia, a slippery slope?

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