Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Insistent on assisted dying

The national newspapers are lining up. The Guardian is in favour of assisted dying, but columnist Andrew Brown has this tucked away in yesterday's piece.

A central objection – which seems to me completely inarguable – is that this really is an extremely slippery slope. Once the principle of autonomy has been conceded as a moral one, it becomes immoral to interfere with it.
There is no line to be drawn. Once we concede the principle that it is up to the patient to determine whether his life is worth living, and that the doctor's duty is to facilitate this wish, no amount of safeguards in law will matter. The patient's right to choose will become an absolute, just as the woman's right to choose has done. And that will put huge pressure on doctors to act against their own consciences, just as abortion does.
What is more, opponents are correct that it isn't really the patient's right to choose. As Giles Fraser keeps saying, we are not as autonomous as we currently pretend. Old people and others are hugely influenced by those around them. And – let's be frank – when those others have a financial stake in an early, cheap death, they will value the patient's life less. So will the patient. The desire "not to be a burden" is pretty deep rooted in social animals like us.,
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