“Dangerous Road”

I have cautiously written about assisted suicide and euthanasia only twice before, on 22 March 2010 – “Lucy died today” and then again on 6 May 2011 – ” A Die-Lemma”.   It is not a subject of rights and wrongs, so much as one with endless shades of grey.  Our ageing population is increasingly being described as a problem, euthanasia is an issue not far from the surface, but seldom spoken about.

Holland has a much more open discussion about assisted suicide and more liberal laws (though not necessarily better ) on euthanasia.  Advocates of the laws suggest euthanasia is a suitable way of dealing with dementia and avoiding suffering —– and expensive health care.

The supposed safeguard is that to “qualify” for euthanasia you must convince two doctors that you are suffering unbearably and that you are making an informed choice.                 An informed choice when you are demented must be difficult to say the least.

Last year in Holland 2,700 people chose to die this way – 21 of them with dementia.  It’s surprising that only 21 of the people who chose to die had dementia, because out of 2,700 people, most of whom you could reasonably assume would be elderly, at least 500 of them would probably be expected to develop dementia.  The implication of this is presumably very few of the 2,700 made a living will expressing their desire to die and only made their final decision when they became frail.     I wonder if these are the right circumstances to make such a decision ?

The economic burden is society’s or the family’s, not a forgetful elderly resident.  How long will it be before the pressure of getting old with dementia makes many more people reach for the same “final solution”.

Why not extend the argument on economic grounds to include many more chronic illnesses that affect older people?  That would certainly save a lot on National Health Service costs.

Why two doctors ?  Why not just one – how about Dr Harold Shipman – he certainly had plenty of prior experience and a clear motivation ? 

Why not leave it to care assistants as suggested by North Essex PCT ?  How long will it be before Beverly Allot is given a pardon and invited to carry on her idea of caring ?


This entry was posted in Assisted Suicide, ELDERLY UK POLICY. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Dangerous Road”

  1. thoroughly provoking, and difficult to answer. As You John I do not wish enconomics to be a reason for euthanasia, either totally or in part. I sincerely believe it has to be an informed choice on the quality of life, by the persons concerned and their family and relatives. Why 2 doctors why not 3 (The old reason to be sectioned under the mental health act?). If the spouse partner and extended family are included, then maybe with the medical/clinical input, there maybe a discussion about criminal acts-But I feel very uneasy about making it easier to precribe death by suicide as an option to life!! Maybe instead of the 3rd doctor one has to engage a man of the cloth, who is a registered practioner of salvations of the soul: However even this aurgument I feel very uncertain about as religous beliefs are as broad as opinions on life.
    Ther is no easy solution, and if taken it is a very personal decision indeed. I feel uneasy with the discussion, but as with aging population it has to be aired and openly debated.

  2. Sunday Telegraph 31 07 2011 & Sunday Mail 7 08 2011-‘The Death Sentence’
    Dear John,
    Both of these papers have given good coverage to a bill to be debated by parliament concerning the reintroduction of the Death Penalty as a part of the Law.
    What a waste of time and hot air: They may as well debate the foxhunting issue?
    What if parliament votes for reintroduction of the ‘Death Penalty’? How does one define murder/homicide? With the aging population of the UK, then I ask what the question of euthanasia? How do we deal with it? What do you define as murder and how does the society in general and in particular come to terms with this issue of death at an old age and murder?
    Do we fit out the tower with a guillotine and ask all those over 55 are who wish to die to line up and be decapitated by the state? I think not? What I wish is common sense, and the compassion in the legal system of the state, not an eye for an eye, or an abattoir of death condoned by the hangman of the state legalising termination.

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