Imagine how it feels to know that you have six months left to live. The normal argument is euthanasia would end the suffering of the most vulnerable. Autonomy is important – we live in a society of choice. Why shouldn’t people decide when they die? No one wants to see others in pain, but the issue is choice is not always a good thing. Why give someone the power to make such a decision who may not be in the right frame of mind?
It’s understandable why someone with six months left to live would be motivated by compassion, in order to prevent loved ones from seeing suffering. For that reason, maybe it’s understandable to back assisted dying. But I think the most compassionate thing to do is to tell the dying that life is a precious gift and shouldn’t be thrown away like that.
Some might say that legalising assisted dying would be a slippery slope, and I agree completely. It would create an appalling culture where one life is judged to be more worthwhile than another.
You might be against assisted-dying on the basis that it would require a change to the principle that a doctor’s role is to heal, not to help people die. If I was in favour of assisted suicide, I wouldn’t want doctors being able to refuse to help, but then is it fair to the doctor to force them to? Death by lottery based on your doctor’s views on the matter is clearly unfair.
In Oregon, doctor-assisted suicide is legal. Here, 59% of people who died as part of their legislation identified feeling a burden as a reason for making their big decision, which is truly terrifying. Also, it is so difficult to assess life expectancy, why allow someone to end their life when we don’t know how long they have left? There could be years! We just don’t know.
Assisted dying may be supported by the majority of people now (93%), but we need to stop before we do anything hasty. Hopefully public opinion moves in a more positive direction.