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Seven Things To Remember About Assisted Dying

Posted by Anthony Ozimic on 18 December 2015

SPUC’s Lives Worth Living campaign will be the theme of the 2016 White Flower Appeal - here are the seven key things you need to know about assisted dying:

1. Doctors are against assisted dying

In 2013 the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) consulted its members throughout the UK on assisted dying. The survey showed that over three quarters of UK GPs oppose assisted dying. Some GPs said that they regarded protecting the vulnerable as one of their major responsibilities. And some GPs said that they would feel forced to resign if assisted dying was made law.

2. Vulnerable people will be at risk of being killed

Assisted dying means a two-tier system where some people can be killed or helped to die. Assisted dying is not a genuine choice when vulnerable people feel pressurised to choose death, or vulnerable people are killed without their explicit consent. The author of a 2015 report on euthanasia in Belgium, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor of Hull University, said:

“The decision as to which life is no longer ‘worth living’ is not in the hands of the patient but in the hands of the doctor.”

3. Assisted dying is not the answer to pain

Assisted dying is not a solution to pain. Nor should lack of pain control be used as an excuse to promote any form of euthanasia. Good palliative care should ensure that pain is controlled well. Legalising assisted dying risks less investment in palliative care. We must work to enhance life for sick, disabled and elderly people, not pass a law offering them death.

4. Assisted dying kills those who are not dying

Recent assisted dying proposals have stipulated that assisted dying should only be offered to people with terminal illnesses who are not expected to live longer than six months. This is supposed to be a safeguard. However in Oregon USA, where the Death with Dignity Act 1997 has this type of clause in it, it often gets ignored. In 2013, the Oregon Public Health Division reported one in six people killing themselves under the act did not have a terminal illness, such as cancer or heart disease.

5. Changing the law will lead to rising numbers of deaths

In countries where assisted dying and euthanasia have been legalised the number of people killed by these means has risen steadily. The growth of euthanasia in Belgium has been truly alarming. Euthanasia was legalised in 2002. In 2003 there were 235 euthanasia deaths. Five years later in 2008, there were 1,133 euthanasia deaths. Five years after that in 2013, there were 1,807 such deaths.

6. The thin end of the wedge

In the near future we could see newborn babies and the over 70s targeted and mobile euthanasia teams in operation. These practices are proposed or already happening in Holland. In his book “Do you call this a life?” Dutch journalist Gerbert van Loenen said:

“Those who think that the 2001 euthanasia law put an end to the discussion on termination of life are mistaken. On the contrary, the advent of the law that allowed the killing of people in specific situations has launched numerous controversial issues.”

7. Media manipulation – and what people really think

There is a campaign by euthanasia groups to use legal cases and media stories to manipulate public opinion in favour of assisted dying. Stories about celebrities who want to have the choice to kill themselves are not a sound basis for passing a law.

Assisted dying is wrong in principle

The most basic reason to oppose legalising assisted dying is because it is wrong in principle. This is because:

  • It allows the lawful killing of innocent people in certain circumstances
  • It is an attack on the “inalienable and inviolable” right to life of human beings as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • It promotes a human right to suicide, where no such right exists
  • It fails to protect the right to life of all citizens no matter how weak, vulnerable or disabled their lives may be
  • It undermines the common good, those aspects of society which benefit everyone

Please give generously to the White Flower appeal and support our Lives Worth Living information campaign. You can also donate online now.

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