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This is an issue of conscience, not party politics.

There are many sensible arguments to support assisted dying as a matter of personal choice. However, nothing can justify assisted dying when the personal choice can not be made competently and unambiguously. The choice for assisted dying can only be made by the person who will be killed and at a time when they are legally competent to take such decisions.

Better law could allow assisted dying without replicating the Dutch examples. However, the examples are somewhat sensationalist and hypocritical. Does anyone know how many children die in Britain because we decide to turn-off life support? A lethal injection is more human than death through starvation or suffocation.

Well done Michael Grove. This is a moral issue. I know Mark's comments are well meant but they make my blood run cold.

I think Mark's talking sense. What is the moral position here...I dont think its a simple one. If people want to die and they are competent to make that decision, then the moral thing to do is to allow it. Assisted dying should be the exception to the rule rather a new rule in itself. The argument that it leads to eugenics is really missing the point. Why would it lead to eugenics if sufficient safeguards are put in place?

Euthanasia isnt murder as the mens rea is substantially different. In the Diane Pretty case, she wished to die but of course she couldnt do it herself. Her husband would have been charged and imprisoned for doing what was right, putting her out of misery that her life had become.

Euthanasia = Good Death. Good death? Thats a new one. Would James or Mark like to explain how someone is better off dead?

Consequentialist ethics of the worst kind.

Perhaps CH should take a look at the Hospice movement. I "do the flowers" at our local Kirkwood hospice every week, and I do assure you, terminally ill people are kept comfortable. Of course, non cancerous diseases like motor neurone, where the mind is still there, and the body isnt, is a different problem altogether. I simply do not know what the right answer to those conditions is.

I confess I am torn on this issue. Part of me thinks "if someone wants to end their life, who is the state to say no" while another part thinks "there's something very disturbing about this". Despite my usual tendency towards individualism the latter feeling tends to dominate on this issue.

Nowadays you can make a 'living will', which I think is quite a good idea, so that if you become 'vegetative' so-to-speak, it is possible for medical staff to do what is necessary.

I can remember, a long time ago, working on a geriatric ward in a general hospital, and nobody much liked being on that ward. There was a patient there (who in fact used to be a nursing sister apparently herself), who was a vegetable to all intents and purposes, she would look at you with fierce black eyes, which would put the fear of God into me (I was in my early 20's at the time), but she could not in any way communicate with us or move anything, and she was also incontinent. I don't know how long she was there, because in the end I got TB through the somewhat lax conditions, at the hospital at that time. Not long after I left sometime later, the whole hospital was demolished, and a new one built!

I forgot to conclude my story!!!

I think it would have been kinder to been able to 'put that nursing sister to sleep' as there was no-way there was any cure, and unless she got pneumonia, she could have lingered on for months, a year?

Living wills! I was trying to remember it but couldnt recall it. My feeling is that there shouldnt be a motivation to have a living will and that there should be an amendment to law to allow someone to die in the way that best befits them, without the legalistic need to amend their wills. If they are suffering needlessly and they make a conscious decision to end their own lives, is it fair for doctors to refuse that? Its free will in practice, isnt it?

Its a difficult ethical decision. Should a doctor, whose job is to save lives, be forced to let someone end their own life when you would naturally want them to remain alive?

I watched my mother take six years to die. First of all senile dementia took away her senses. Then she became bed ridden, and slowly wasted away: it was appalling. If at any time I had been offered the obvious alternative, I would have taken it. If she had been able to give her opinion, I'm sure she would have supported me.
I do wish some MP's would not get involved in this issue until the have been through a similar situation.

Would James or Mark like to explain how someone is better off dead?

The presumption has to be that life is preserved and that an assisted death can only be chosen by the person who is to die, not a third party. Since I should only be able to make the decision for myself, I can only say when I would be better off dead.

All life comes to an end. Other than living to see my children into adulthood, I have no ambition to live for a particular amount of time. I rank quality of life above quantity. Were my quality of life to become very low, with no hope of improvement, such as permanent dependence on care or permanent inability to interact or communicate, I would prefer to die.

It is important to me that I provide a happy environment and a decent inheritance to my children. I would not want to see either or these squandered on a hopeless situation – it would leave my final days filled with disappointment. I would want the choice of an assisted death to be solely according to my conditions, with no possibility of anyone interfering with my decision. Particularly I would not want my family to be burdened by any power to trigger or prevent assisted death.

I accept that your view on when to die may be very different and equally justified. That's why I would never seek to impose my choices upon you.

Euthanasia - why does John Prescott spring to my mind? LOL!

Clearly there is no way a consensus will be possible on this issue. Conservatives believe in individual freedom. Surely this must include the right to choose when is the right time to die. If some want to go on to the bitter end then fine, but if some prefer to go before that, then if some doctors are willing to carry out their wishes and they meet the right criteria, and the necessary safeguards are in place, why should they be denied?

In the end those who have the help and the will can go to Holland or Switzerland and get the medical assistance there.

Please could someone tell me what LOL stands for, I have tried my best to try and work out for myself what it could be, but its no good!

Laughs Out Loud


Thank you Rob, I did work out AFAIK.

"A lethal injection is more human than death through starvation or suffocation."

I agree with Mark on this point. To have someone starve to death is utterly barbaric, IMO, compared to lethal injection.

No one would suggest that vets let dogs starve to death, but we do with our fellow human beings.

What I find really strange, is that quite often the objections to euthanasia in extreme cases, such as where a person is being starved, come from religious people. I am religious myself and do not believe physical death is the end of us, it is a new beginning. Death is birth into the new life, IMO.

I can understand a die-hard atheist who is convinced that we cease to be when we die, being opposed in all cases, but not the religious.

After all, most religions have some kind of Just War theory where perfectly healthy men and women can be killed by religious people in wartime.

I can understand a die-hard atheist who is convinced that we cease to be when we die...

After all, most religions have some kind of Just War theory where perfectly healthy men and women can be killed by religious people in wartime.

Which is why I would prefer our Prime Minister to be a die-hard atheist who believes that there's nothing beyond death!!!

The point I was making is that since death can never be in the interest of the person being killed it must surely be motivated by the consequentialist concerns of the people doing the killing. Ever hear NHS doctors whine about old people being "bed blockers"? Want to give them a hand? This is what I have a problem with. This silly notion that personal autonomy trumps everything, especially when we are being asked to *assist* someone in self harm, who may not even be capable of signaling that they want to be bumped off is an entirely different proposition.

If someone asked you to repeatedly inject them with heroin so that they became addicted, because for some reason they really wanted this to happen, would you be under some kind of duty to do such a thing?

I believe that the unconditional protection of innocent life is the centre of morality. No ethics deserves the name unless it recognises this commitment.

We have a right to life but we do not have a right to death ie an ability to give up or nullify our right to life. It is not like a piece fo property which we can dispose of as we wish. The autonomy of a rational being must be subject to the precepts of morality. Just as we can temporarily, like in a commune, waive our right to property temporarily, I don't think we could ever say that we could totally and forever give away this right. Autonomy is never the freedom to do whatever you like, people can have false beliefs about what is good for them. Human life is the source of all good and is the source of all well being, and autonomy. Nobody can ask that a wrong be done them. Therefore all euthanasia must be involuntary.

The kind of people who argue that those who are non-persons, ie the senile, the brain damaged ect are also those who advocate infanticide, on the same grounds that the individual in question is not a full "person" and that only killing "persons" is wrong. I think that ethics should be about the protection of the most vulnerable in society.

Life has intrinsic rather than instrumental value. I don't care whether someone is "using" their life to a greater or lesser extent. Incidentally, how are we to rate the quality of life, has someone designed to chart to decide? True, some people live in terrible pain, but to say that their life is worse than normal is not to say that it is worthless.

The idea that someone should be killed because their life does not meet someones objective criteria is abhorent. Euthanasia is always motivated by extrinsic concerns which are self interested rather than merciful. Slippery slope? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Mark, I have a lot of sympathy with some of the points you are making but there is enormous scope here for pressure to be placed on very vulnerable people to consent to their own lives being terminated. We live in a society which is deeply ageist and where looking after terminally and chronically ill people is an increasing financial and emotional burden. I have experienced all this at first hand because my own father took nearly 20 years to die of MS. In the end, I am still suspicious that he ended his life in some distress, because the powers that be decided he was not worth preserving.....and in a sense they were right because he was a desperately sick, bedridden man.

I would be much happier if this measure was accompanied by a lot more taxpayer support for the hospice industry and palliative care in general. Again, I know from first hand experience what a burden it is to care for someone in the last stages of chronic illness.

By the way, spare us the cheap shots about religion. The most murderous tyrannies in history were those of the 20th century. Hitler, Lenin, Stalin or Mao were die-hard atheists.

I have sympathy with both points of view, but in the end, I'm concerned that there is really no neat dividing line between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia.

At the moment, assisted killing is taboo. In practice, if it ceased to be taboo, I could expect there to be a lot of pressure on elderly people to "do the decent thing" and to stop being a burden on their relatives and the State.

"The point I was making is that since death can never be in the interest of the person being killed it must surely be motivated by the consequentialist concerns of the people doing the killing."

I disagree with your assertion that death can never be in the interest of the person being killed.

1. My grandmother told her sister to leave her be and let her die, as her sister was phoning for an ambulance. She was dying and in a lot of pain, medical treatment would have prolonged the agony. Her sister did not comply with the request, but my grandmother died on the way to the hospital.

2. I saw my great-aunt (the sister) dying of breast cancer when I was a child and I prayed to God that he would take her life. She was drugged up with morphine. She died the next day.

I do believe that if someone is dying in agony, they should be allowed to die quickly.

It does not matter if there is an afterlife or not. What would you prefer, to die in prolonged agony or to be put to sleep?

In hospital, would you prefer days and perhaps weeks drugged up on morphine, or a quick death?

I would choose a quick death.

Now, the slippery slope. I have asked for cyanide to kill me when in hospital. This was because of the terrible side-effects of medication, not illness. I have pleaded for my life to be taken. I have an illness which has a complication, which is suicide.

Now, it would be wrong to assist a suicide like that because it isn't a case of assisting someone to die who is dying anyhow. I am very happy now.

As far as dementia is concerned, I would like to have a living will in which I could be put to sleep if I could no longer recognise my lover or family. My lover had a relative who survived for over 6 years, and it was terrible. I would consider it cruel to refuse me death if I were like that.

Some people say that only God can decide when a person dies. Well, he doesn't stop murderers now, does He?

Perhaps God is wanting us to alleviate inevitable suffering? Perhaps God doesn't want a person to die a long, painful and undignified death?

"Some people say that only God can decide when a person dies. Well, he doesn't stop murderers now, does He?"

No, and they're still wrong. What do you want, a bolt of lighning from the sky?

"What would you prefer, to die in prolonged agony or to be put to sleep?" - That is the kind of decision you make about the family cat, not a loved one.

Maybe you are too young to be discussing death with your loved ones, Henry? I'm 41. My lover and I have already discussed these matters, and we would both prefer a living will for ourselves, where we ourselves to be suffering as I have described.

Yes, it is done for animals, Henry, and it can be argued, that we are kinder to dogs than human beings who are dying in agony.

That is the other side of the argument, and if you wish to win the argument, you must deal with it, think it through, and not just answer with knee-jerk stuff, which tries to portray the other person as a bad person.

Hey, this is pure (rational) self interest here. When my time comes, may that be a very long time away, I don't want to be taken to the vet like some pet the kids have got tired of playing with.

Good answer, Henry. I would like a living will setup where people like yourself would never be put to sleep, as it were, but people like myself could, if certain conditions are met.

Also, it is vitally important that no health professional is obliged to put someone to sleep.

It wouldn't play out like that. Still, at least there will be more doctors and nurses to treat me when they're done with you. Do you seriously think that most Doctors would be willing to live with what they have done? I know that I could not.

By the way, spare us the cheap shots about religion.

From my perspective it wasn't a cheap shot. Tony Blair's religious beliefs do worry me but I do apologise for going OT.

Fair enough, Mark, and thanks. I share your concerns about TB's religious beliefs. They rarely seem to be tempered with humility.

My father, Ernest D. Whitehead Sr. was murdered on April 20, 2007. He was alert and responding to questions, shaking his head yes and no. He made his wishes known to his doctor and was ignored. He wanted the ventilator left in place so he could breathe. My brother and sister joined up with Palliative Care and removed it against his will. No one would listen to me or my father. His last word to me was "Mad." because of what my brother Ernie and sister Sharon had done to him. I went into his room late on April 19. Pallitative care was not expecting me. They had daddy laying on plastic and wrapped in blankets which were soaked in sweat. They were dehydrating him to make him die quicker. They had told my mother when she signed the papers that daddy would continue to have IV fluids and anti biotics. I knew this was a lie, but she would not listen to me. They had removed the IV fluids and told me they had no orders for that. The only orders they had were for his anti biotic. But it was not the anti biotic my father had been on. They switched it to Penicillin which he is allergic to. It was written on his wrist band. I made them give my father a bath and clean bedding. He died in my arms at 2:43 AM April 20. My father was NOT given comfort care. He was murdered. He did not want his breath taken away. If daddy was to die, his heart would have stopped. But the evil family that I have felt he wouldn't die quickly enough. So they killed him. Palliative Care and Hospice needs to be stopped. They are murderers. Pure and simple.

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