Analysis: Assisted dying debate

Nurse and patient holding hands

There is a profound gulf between those who see assisted dying as a fundamental human right for the terminally ill and those who fear that right could easily turn into a duty for the disabled and vulnerable.

It was the case of the late Tony Nicklinson, who had locked-in syndrome and wanted doctors to help him die, which proved a powerful talisman for the pro-lobby.

The Supreme Court rejected that argument last month, but invited Parliament to reconsider the law on assisted suicide as it could be incompatible with human rights legislation.

It is ironic that Mr Nicklinson would not have been eligible for help under the Assisted Dying Bill as he was not terminally ill and lacked the ability to self-administer a lethal dose.

Profound change

The assisted dying bill would allow adults of sound mind, with six months to live, the right to end their life at a time of their choosing.

It would be a profound step for society, modelled on the law in Oregon in the US.

If experience there is a guide it may lead to around 1,000 people a year in England and Wales choosing an assisted death.

Supporters believe opinion has shifted decisively in their favour since the Lords last rejected the measure eight years ago.

However, there seems no realistic possibility that the Bill will become law without government support and Parliamentary time.

But this issue - arguably one of the most significant facing society - will keep re-emerging and those of both sides of the divide will have their arguments ready.

Fergus Walsh Article written by Fergus Walsh Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

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Assisted dying controversy


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  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    #62 ciconia

    "Some of us have relevant experiences on which to base our views."

    --Then give them.

    Disabled have the same ´problem´ as the non-disabled.

    --a pain-free and respectful death.

    If you believe that Britain cannot provide the certainty you require --

    Then say so.

    --But do not prevent those who wish that --to achieve their wish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    30 truth logic etc,
    Disagreeing with your opinion does not make people 'fantasy god voodoo believers....morally weak or paranoid'.
    This is a serious and difficult issue needing an adult attitude.
    Some of us have relevant experiences on which to base our views.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    #60 bbcid001

    "NO to assisted dying.
    It would encourage much Skulduggery to obtain riches from the deceased."

    -- you have a method ´to take it with you ´?

    It is only a matter of (short) time before the ´Skulduggery´ occurs anyway.

    (personal observations)

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    NO to assisted dying.
    It would encourage much Skulduggery to obtain riches from the deceased.
    If people want to die that much, then they will end their suffering by their own actions. Amen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I presently have no fear of a peaceful and pain free death.

    What more worries me is if Hinduism is correct -- and it immediately begins all over again -- re-birth would be a drag.

    #58 Vin

    " I don't think friends and relatives count because they might have completely the opposite view to mine: "

    --considering my parents gave me a ´death sentence´

    --a conflict of interest was apparent.


Comments 5 of 63


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