On Friday, peers will debate Lord Falconer’s bill to legalise assisted dying in the UK. Recently, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Archbishop Desmond Tutu came out in support of assisted dying. Both are compassionate figures, but religious leaders coming out in support of assisted dying is a major step forward.
According to Cameron, “people might be being pushed into things that they don’t actually want for themselves”. The petition agrees, adding that “Lord Falconer’s Bill would actively encourage people to commit suicide.”
The premise behind the bill is that the dying person (and it only applies to those who have less than 6 months to live) can make the choice for themselves. While it might be possible for someone to be unduly pressured into assisted suicide, two independent doctors will verify that the dying person is basing their decision on informed consent. The petition’s line that the bill is encouraging suicide is completely falsified by this stipulation; it is solely about the wishes of the dying person.
The benefits of the bill are great – dying people can choose to end their life with dignity, with drugs recommended by medical professionals. Family members can assist them and be by their side, without having to worry about whether or not they are committing a serious crime. If I am dying, I do not want to wait in fear of it being a painful or uncomfortable process. If a loved one is dying, I do not want to watch them suffer against their will, helplessly standing by out of fear of the law.
The bill is furthers the cause of compassion, and other than the weak and unsubstantiated worry that people will be pressured into killing themselves, I have not encountered any objections. If we have any sense, we’ll legalise assisted dying.