Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph reported that "vulnerable people could feel under pressure to commit suicide if a controversial assisted suicide Bill becomes law." The newspaper reported that two out of three people fear that it could put vulnerable patients under unnecessary pressure. Three-quarters of people thought that Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill could influence doctors to end lives.
Melissa Kite's Sunday Telegraph report was based on a Communicate Research survey for the Care Not Killing Alliance. CNK describes itself as "a UK-based alliance of individuals and organisations which brings together human rights groups, healthcare groups, palliative care groups and faith-based organisations." It aims to promote palliative care and oppose assisted suicide.
"We all have a duty to do what we can to protect innocent life. There is a worrying contemporary move to dismantle the protections which still exist to safeguard the right to life. Increasingly we are being invited to consider an individual's quality of life and accept the termination of life if it does not pass a particular threshold. This trend takes us from a position of security for the vulnerable into a twilit world where clear ethical standards can more easily be breached. All those of us concerned for the voiceless and vulnerable should raise our voices to warn of the consequences of proceeding down this morally fraught path."
Danny Kruger, writing for today's Telegraph, is equally worried. He fears that the Joffe Bill is really "[Harold] Shipman's Charter". Joffe, if passed, could set us on the slippery slope to the involuntary euthanasia now seen in Holland:
"Lord Joffe's Bill crosses a deep, if narrow, fissure in our ethics, for it allows doctors to give treatment with the intention of ending life. It gives doctors the right to conclude that a patient would be better off dead, and to act on that conclusion... Lord Joffe admits his Bill is "a first stage" and "there could be subsequent stages", including euthanasia for younger people and those not terminally ill... Every year in Holland, where the law allows euthanasia on request, around 1,000 people are given euthanasia without request. They include 150 disabled babies killed by lethal injection. They also include, according to an official from the Dutch health ministry, 250 people "who could have made a request but did not". (He added: "So we are wondering about that." I should think so.)."
Related link: Boris Johnson "inclined" to back Assisted Dying Bill.