Life and Work March 2010

The issue of assisted suicide is far broader than that of physician-assisted death.

The claim that doctors should not be allowed to help their patients kill themselves does not infer that no-one should ever be allowed to help anyone commit suicide.

Again, even if one opposes the legalisation of assisted suicide, it is not clear why we should oppose assisted suicide in principle.

An objection commonly made by both the Kirk and the PM is that vulnerable people might feel they have a duty to die because they are a burden.

Yet the fact some people might resort inappropriately to assisted suicide is no reason to insist that no-one should be allowed access to such a service.

Furthermore, if I become a burden to my children and for that reason no longer want to live, I do not see why I should be bullied by zealots and told I must stay alive.

Legalized assisted suicide would no more put pressure on people to end their lives than the legal permissibility of sex pressurizes people into having sex.

I am aware that faith groups claim the legalisation of assisted suicide would “send the wrong message” and lead to the undermining of respect for human life.

However, it is not the function of laws to send messages and we do not say that sex should be banned because its legal availability warps some fragile minds.

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