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This is a reassuring step from Cameron to those of us who believe that the lives of the innocent are sacred.

Maybe it's because I share fully DCs views but this letter is both a welcome response but also I'm impressed by the tone and language used - it is, as the Editor points out, about his personal views which adds strength and honesty to the message.

This is subject that many have strong views on - having sat by my mother's bed with rest of my family at home as she died of cancer, with myself and sisters and brother having been provided by MacMillan's nurse with the mixture and advice on pallative care I had a positive experience of such a death but I realise that others have a different experience.

I could however see how easily that the fear of a painful death could have put pressure on my mother to ask for assistance had it been available, which would have caused her to wrestle her conscience and left a legacy of guilt rather than the real experience which wasn't painless, wasn't great but did bring all of us to recognition of our parts in the natural cycle of life and death, and left us with better memories of both her life and death.

To force someone into prolonged suffering against their will, society needs greater justification than David Cameron has provided in this letter. Suicide without assistance is an option for many terminally ill people, but very few exercise it as a choice. I don’t see any evidence to support the argument that having an option creates a pressure.

"I don’t see any evidence to support the argument that having an option creates a pressure."

As someone who administers numerous estates (and sees what the prospect of a legacy does to some people) I have to disagree.

I'm really pleased that David Cameron has taken this stand against euthanasia and I couldn't agree with you more Sean...

Where there's a will... there's often a greedy relative!"

As someone who administers numerous estates (and sees what the prospect of a legacy does to some people) I have to disagree.

It has occurred to me that (purely financially) I’m worth more to my family dead than alive, but still I trust them not to heave me over the side of a boat. Love has something to do with it. If I didn’t trust them, it would be up to me (and nobody else) what choices to make. Freedom of choice is accompanied by risks, but absence of choice is accompanied by more. It is perverse logic that you would deny my choice because, otherwise, my choice could be influenced by others.

Where there's a will... there's often a greedy relative!"

Could that not be easily offset by including a law that automatically freezes the assets of someone who chooses voluntary euthanasia for a fix period of x years?

By making the decision actually an expensive one (the relatives costs could increase if they have to move out of the dying person's home etc)

By making the decision financially unattractive in this way, it would remove those pressures that concern you.

There is such a thing as undue influence Mark. I can anticipate situations under which you (or I) might not be able to withstand the pressure to "do the decent thing."


Life is either sacred or it is not.

As soon as human judgement is allowed into it, in any way, you have acceped that humans have the right to choose if another human dies.

Clearly it is a personal view, but Cameron is clearly supporting the right of humans to choose for another to die with the "letting nature take its course" approach to justify doctors killing babies.

If Cameron wants to allow nature to take its course, then what about people who need daily dialysis etc? The natural thing would be to allow them to die too. So, Cameron's argument would be that if the person would die without any intervention then it is ok.

How many people would be dead tomorrow if all artificial methods of keeping them alive were removed and nature was allowed to take its course?

Yes, I know he says "appalling circumstances" (often against the wishes of parents and relatives) but who once we start defining what circumstances are "appalling" enough to permit killing another human, we have already crossed the line and rejected the notion that life is sacred.

As long as political parties support the right of doctors to kill children against the wishes of the parents, I find it very hypocritical of them to oppose voluntary euthanasia under any circumstances.

Alongside their normal Will, people sometimes make an Advance Directive (a.k.a. a 'Living Will'), expressing the wish that their life should not be unnecessarily prolonged if they are in the final stages of a terminal illness. (Though the Directive has no legal force.)

I wonder whether, if the Joffe Bill were to become law, we'd see a new type of Advance Directive, expressing the wish that under no circumstances should anyone intervene to 'assist' that person's death?


Lets not coflate arguements. Reality can provide different arguments for different cases as against pure ethical theories.

I think it is wrong to actively help people suicide but I also know that the Bromptons mixture that my mother received at my hands and those of other members of my family as well as providing much needed pain relief may have hastened her death. I would not have administered something purely to kill her but at that time it was pallative relief that was required. I would in no way support asking doctors to actively support suicide or in fact to kill their patients.

The state of law currently is I think the best compromise - no to euthanasia, but recognition that some treatments or withloding of treatments will hasten the natural process.

I am also against the positive actions of withholding food and water to kill rather than withholding medication and providing pallative care.

As soon as human judgement is allowed into it, in any way, you have acceped that humans have the right to choose if another human dies.

As I said on the last thread, I wouldn't advocate a law that gives any decision making power to a third party. The acceptance is that humans have the right to choose when THEY THEMSELVES die, even if they aren’t physically capable of suicide. The person who injects the poison is performing a function that could be achieved without sentience.

Whilst personally agreeing with DC about this, I don't think we should get too excited about the position the leader takes on these sort of issues. I recall that one of the most consistent supporters of abortion in this country from the 1960's to the 1980's, was Mrs Thatcher.

Gareth, you're right that we shouldn't get over-excited about this. Having said that, this sort of issue reveals character aspects that other issues can't reach.

Then, Gareth, I think personally that Lady Thatcher was wrong.

I agree with David Cameron on this issue. Good show.

PS I don't recognise the "DSG" postnominals that Mrs Bowman have been given by Cameron. Australia doesn't award them anymore (unsound), but I know what DSOs, DSCs, and DSMs are. But what is a DSG?


Seems to be choice of:
DSG Daily Sketch Group
DSG Dansk Supermarked Gruppen
DSG Data Segment
DSG Democratic Study Group
DSG Deployment Support Group (USMC)
DSG Design Systems Group
DSG Designate
DSG Designated Scapegoat
DSG Desulphogypsum
DSG Developmental Services Group, Inc.
DSG Digital Carvers Guild
DSG digital signal generator (US DoD)
DSG Direct Shift Gearbox (Audi)
DSG Direct Steam Generation
DSG Direct Support Group
DSG Direkt Schalt Getriebe (Volkswagen/Audi automatic gearbox)
DSG Dixons Stores Group Plc (UK)
DSG DOCSIS Set-Top Box Gateway
DSG Drop Siding
DSG DSL Services Group
DSG Duke Student Government (Duke University)
DSG Dynamic Sound Generator

I think Designated Scapegoat is most likely.

LOL Ted. Wow. Imagine, Desulphogypsum and Bar.

I refuse to believe that it is the Government's job to decide (over an individual conscience) whether they live or die.

The idea 'life is sacred' might make Dave feel a warm glow all over but it isn't true. People die. Horrible but true. People's treatment is withdrawn due to costs. We as a society choose to allow people to die because we don't want to fund the treatment. Life is clearly not sacred in the sense we choose to give it and take it - we choose to give it to those who would not live and refuse to treat those who we cannot afford to.

Why not let nature take its real course. Anyone who needs to be put in a home and allowed to deteriorate. And if they can't get out of bed without help we should let them starve. The way nature intended. Let's remove external human interference altogether.

I agree it reveals character. Wishy-washy refusal to accept life for what it is and confused rhetoric about what is sacred is a negative in my book.

more seriously though it could be a Papal order - can't think of a society or academic one that fits.


DC makes clear it's personal not political.

But Governments do have a part in decisions over life & death - in that they can decide what is legal or illegal.

Suppose it could be Dame of the Order of St Gregory...

I'm RC, Ted, but I think putting papal decorations as postnominals is naff unless you are clergy (maybe).

As someone who watched his own mother take six years to die, in the most distressing manner. I find it sickening to watch politicians jump on the 'life is sacred' bandwaggon.

Someone pointed out that Lady Thatcher opposed abortion, well so did Cecil Parkinson, until his mistress became pregnant, he then tried to drag her to an abortion clinic. Perhaps we might also mention Boris Johnston someone else who believed life was sacred! Honest ask Petronella Wyatt. What Hypocrites!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even when DC comes across as strictly conservative, I still cant agree with him. Ive said before, those who are suffering should not be forced not to end it. Lets bear in mind the the Joffe Bill is not voluntary euthanasia. Its completely different. The patient makes the choice and carries out the euthanasia themselves. The doctor simply prescribes the medication which the patient takes. Voluntary euthanasia is when the doctor itself carries it out, which is where I stop. This Bill is acceptable. Voluntary euthanasia, no.

This is a free vote issue. There is no way the Conservative Party would follow a Party line, and to be honest, I doubt the leadership would be able to find one that wouldnt lead into a split in the Party.

Issues like this are literally impossible I think. Because you can feel so strongly at one extreme in one frame of mind, and then as easily at the other in the next. Who could bear to see a loved one suffering when that loved one has asked for assistance to leave? Equally, who would want to live in a country where thousands of people are quietly euthanased for the increased comfort of the living? I think anything that is so insoluble deductively ought to be kept OUT of the hands of the legislature, so I'm glad of the vote tonight.

3 days after the Lords debate and I'm still seething with anger over this.

Just who the *hell* do these people, not even elected people, think they are....that they know better than 80% of the British population who support euthanasia?

I'm not saying politicians should follow every last whim of the opinion polls, but there has been an overwhelming majority of British people in favour of this for years.

This isn't a party political issue, so why not let the people decide in a referendum?

I think a distinction needs to be made between assisted dying and euthanasia. Theres a big difference. With assisted dying (in Joffe's Bill) the patient kills themselves. The doctor just prescribes the drugs. The doctor mustnt administer the drug. Voluntary euthanasia is where the doctor carries it out, which I am not minded to support. Critics of the Bill say its the first step to euthanasia and suddenly every doctor in the land will become Harold Shipmans. I dont think that is the case if safeguards are in place to avoid it.

Until the law is changed, people are forced to rely on living wills.

A couple of fair points from James, but I still think we need to make provision for those who still have mental capacity, but are phyisically unable to take the substance to give a dignified end to their lives.

One thing is clear, this truly does cross party lines (and IMHO is *far* more important that many of the things that don't-even speaking as an opponent of the Tory party).

If ever there was a subject worthy of a referendum and a decision by all of us, this is it.

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