On September 11th, the UK will see something happen that hasn’t happened in 18 years.
The assisted dying bill was put forth by Lord Falconer last year, but ran out of time in Parliament. Now, Labour MP Rob Marris has given another chance to Dignity in Dying. After Jeffrey Spector died in Dignitas, a Swiss assisted-dying clinic, in favouring of succumbing to cancer, Mr Marris made assisted dying his chosen topic. He was able to do that because he came top of the list for Private Members Bills, which allows backbench MP’s to have a say in key issues. The legislation would give terminally-ill adults the right to die. Doctors would be able to prescribe a lethal dose to patients with 6 or less months to live and who request it.
This bill is long over-due
There is nothing acceptable about prolonging someone’s suffering. Everyone deserves to decide whether or not they want to live.Patients would be assessed to see if they have a “clear and settled intention” to end their life. Before it could go ahead, it would need to be approved by two doctors and a high court judge.
Those who claim it could lead to a cheap alternative to palliative care haven’t done their research. The conditions listed above are evidence enough that those who will want the right to die would have to jump through some carefully placed hoops first. This leaves little room for poorly judged cases of assisted dying. Even if you were a sceptic about the real life application of this bill, you cannot turn a blind eye to the statistics which show how crucial this law is.
One person a fortnight travels to Dignitas, and over 300 terminally-ill people per year take their own lives in this country behind closed doors.
How can we pretend these numbers don’t mean people are suffering unnecessarily?
Even without this law in place, people are taking action to find some solace when they feel life isn’t worth living. Rejection of this bill wouldn’t prevent terminally ill patients committing suicide, but it just prevents them from being able to do it safely and in their own time.
The MP for Wolverhampton South West agrees with my line of argument and he said:
“The public are clearly in favour of a change in the law and it is right that parliament now debates this issue. Alongside the vast majority of the public, I am in favour of terminally ill people who are of sound mind having choice at the end of life. It is a choice that I would want for myself and I do not think we should be denying this to people who are facing an imminent death.”
That is the bottom line. We should not have power to state whether or not someone is suffering enough to die or at peace enough to hold on. I am lucky enough that no close family member of mine has ever been terminally ill. However, I cannot imagine the pain of having to watch them slowly fade away, left with no quality of life or desire to carry on living yet little choice to do otherwise.
This bill would only apply to adults with the mental capacity to make that decision both at the time of the request and the time of death.
This shows how Lord Falconers’ bill has strict guidelines in place to protect vulnerable people. Basically, the bill would not less to more deaths, but less people suffering.
This show a growing concern for the unbearable pain of terminal illness. I personally agree with the majority, because I feel autonomy is important in a democratic society. Those who decide to die have to take the final lethal dose themselves, meaning they have to be completely committed to the decision.
As with every moral issue, there is evidence of scare-mongering towards holes in the bill, such as people worrying terminally ill people will end their life to avoid being a burden on family members. However, to me this shows evidence of mental suffering, and we have no right to state that this is less worthy than physical pain.
I, along with 80% of the British public, hope to see a passage of this bill on September 11th.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!