Dying with Dignity

An unofficial Commission has recently reported on the subject of assisted dying/suicide. The Commission was chaired by Lord Falconer, a former Justice Secretary, and was funded by Sir Terry Pratchett, the well known author, who has Alzheimer’s disease. The Commission was set up because those involved felt the present law, which makes assisted dying illegal, is “inadequate.” Most of the members of the Commission were known to be in favour of legalising assisted dying/suicide.

The recommendations of the Commission were that, in certain circumstances, assisted dying should be legalised. If a person is over 18, has a terminal illness, and is not expected to live more than 12 months, they should be permitted to kill themselves, provided they are not mentally impaired and are able to make a voluntary decision. The person would also need to be independently assessed by two doctors before being given the medicine to end their lives. The Commission believed there was a “strong case” for this procedure to be legalised. Many people refused to give evidence to the Commission, including the BMA, who said the majority of doctors do not want to legalise assisted dying.

This is a very important subject for any civilised society. Since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed there have been 7 million abortions in the UK. Mothers expecting babies whom tests reveal have a disability are routinely encouraged to abort them so that the child will not become a drain on resources. Now it is being proposed, in the guise of being caring and allowing freedom of choice, that the terminally ill be helped to “die with dignity.” This is a serious issue for us all.

It is very important that we affirm the sanctity of every human life. We all bear the image of God and have an eternal soul. The way we care for the terminally ill and elderly affirms the value we set on every individual person. I have often witnessed the loving care of families and medical staff for those who are dying. When life is drawing to an end it means so much to be surrounded by our loved ones. The excellent care now available in hospitals and hospices eases the final days for many. Long may this loving care continue. How tragic it would be if the law allowed people to ask their doctors to give them a fatal dose of drugs so that they can commit suicide.