Assisted suicide has been a recurring subject in GrumbleSmiles ever since I wrote about it in my very first blog. (See “LUCY DIED TODAY” by clicking in the ARCHIVE – MARCH 2010).
I have no doubt there is sincerity on both sides of the cases for and against. I also imagine there is great personal tragedy behind many of the individual stories brought forward to support the argument for legalising assisted suicide. They could have no better advocate than Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor. He has a barrister’s certainty about the righteousness of his case and the political guile to manoeuvre his way through parliamentary legislation.
A few years ago he set up an “independent” group of people to review the issue. Now he assures us that “the public” have lost confidence in the present law. His next step is to pilot a bill through the House of Lords to legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill patients with less than a year to live. However, in an interview with The Times, he talks about people who are terminally ill with “only just months or weeks to live”.
His subtle change of words betrays the manipulation behind his argument. It is the beginnings of a step too far. A diagnosis of terminal illness with 3 weeks to live is a lot more certain than a one year prediction. The safeguard of having two doctors to certify the diagnosis is equally open to manipulation. Dr Harold Shipman showed us the possibilities.
Doubtless over the years to come the current legal position will be softened further in favour of assisting the terminally ill to die.
This may be a right thing to do, but add in the “burden” elderly people are putting on the NHS and the next step will be for a lawyer to widen the definition of terminal illness to include dementia.
Then you are truly on the slippery slope with no turning back. We may even be there already. It would not be the first time the law has to catch up with reality, but it is a frightening prospect.