Some claim that suicide and euthanasia are equivalent to state-sanctioned murder if legal. This is, clearly, hysterical propaganda. However, while it is, for obvious reasons, impossible to punish someone who has successfully committed suicide, here in Scotland it is possible for attempted suicide to be prosecuted under breach of the peace and anyone assisting can be charged with culpable homicide or murder.
I am not ill. There is no indication in my family thus far that I may have a genetic disorder. Every member of my immediate family, from my six year old cousin to my ninety-six year old great grandmother are in reasonable good health. Yet if I were to suffer from a terminal disease, be it selfish or not, I do not believe it is my family, my friends or, particularly, the state's decision whether or not I continue to live in mental or physical distress. My body, my mind, my choice. If any other member of my family felt the same way, I would be deeply saddened and I would grieve, but I would ultimately support their decision.
I do not wish at any point in my life to be restricted by the cultural and religious beliefs of others if it means I have to live in pain or anguish. We have enough of that in bills attempting to curb romantic/sexual relationships between consenting adults and frequent attacks on women's health and choice in favour of embryos. I don't give a fuck if you're humanist, Christian, Muslim, Scientologist or spiritual masseuse/yoga instructor. Butt. Out. I repeat: my life is my own. I am not robbing anyone, I am not murdering anyone, I am not depriving others of their human rights.
The Independent summarised it well in a 2002 article:
In [...] cases where there are no dependants who might exert pressure one way or the other, the right of the individual to choose should be paramount. So long as the patient is lucid, and his or her intent is clear beyond doubt, there need be no further questions.
Yes, we 100% need to support the NHS and make sure care for the terminally ill and elderly is as good as it can be and it can be better (Mr Cameron, Mr Lansley, you're not going in the right direction for it), but that goal doesn't negate the right people should have to end their suffering without fear of reprisal.
The present law does not necessarily reflect current public opinion in the United Kingdom but traditional, outdated values. If you don't want to choose to die, I suggest you don't go to a clinic that assists in suicide to die. In the law, we always have safeguards - it might take a while to perfect them but they're there - to protect the vulnerable.
- There must be unbearable physical or mental suffering
- The suffering and the desire to die must be lasting
- It must be the patient's own decision
- The patient must have a clear understanding of his or her condition and prognosis. He or she must be capable of assessing the options and must have done so
- There must be no other acceptable solution
- The time and the way the patient dies must not cause avoidable misery to others (e.g. the next of kin should be informed and the patient's affairs be put in order)
- The doctor involved must consult another professional
- A medical doctor must be involved in prescribing the right drugs.
- The decision process and the actual treatment must be carried out with the utmost care
- The person receiving help to die does not have to be terminally ill, but must be suffering unbearably
Seems reasonable to me.