On euthanasia and assisted suicide

By Michael Skywood Clifford.

It is interesting how opposite the views of most men and women are on euthanasia. Most women I know support it. They accept that it can be legal (and desirable) for a life to be terminated if requested. Men are more cautious. I think women are much more in touch with their feelings, are naturally family centred and are highly compassionate. Consequently they are empathetic to the horrors of being trapped in a body that only causes one suffering and anguish..

Men – many of them anyway – are more political with a big P. They see the potential danger of – at some future time – a dangerous totalitarian political party gaining power and being able to use any existing euthanasia-accepting law to wipe out elderly people (or any other dependents) who are expensive to the state, and more so, to wipe out their political enemies under the guise of such a legal bill. The Nazi's used legal euthanasia to wipe out many expensive dependents and enemies.

There are vast complex variations to the circumstances of someone dying, too many for the blunt tool of the law to find recourse to. Any law that was written would always be far too short to be inclusive of all circumstances, and the longer and more complex it is, the more it could be subverted.

I suggest (I am a male with male tendencies described above) that the old system continues and that we do not legislate for this, but to allow doctors and those on the ground floor – who know the individuals, their friends and families – to make group decisions with their nearest and dearest. If food is withdrawn, or a machine switched off it need not make case history. This is the blind eye method that was always exercised in hospitals before this campaign to legally clarify this awful dilemma, a dilemma which is impossible to clarify legally.

Finally we have to ask the question: 'Is life sacred?' Does the human have a soul? Do we have a right to take life?

In this secular age of the UK, many here (primed by the media) think negatively about such things as the soul and are more practically concerned with patient's suffering and pain. It is dreadful indeed to see a person go through prolonged suffering, or to experience it oneself. Those who believe in the soul take a broader view: that all human life is short but eternity is very long. Most religious people do not believe that humans have the right to take anyone's life, including their own, because their life belongs to God.

This week 1st July 12, changes by Parliament will be outlined in a draft bill which could legalise assisted suicide. Ideas under discussion are that two doctors acting independently of each other would have to check that a person was 'eligible' to receive assistance at the end of their life. They would have to check that the patient was acting freely and was fully informed. Only the patients themselves can raise the issue with their doctor. The patient must have lived in England or Wales for over a year. The patient must have a terminal illness with a prognosis of only 12 months and they must take the medication themselves. Neither Sir Terry Prachett nor Tony Nicklinson (who have both supported the change in the law) would qualify as neither come under the prognosis rule.

Modern life, Religious and philosophical

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