Disabled people are actually being made to feel like burdens to the community and that doesn’t help the feeling that it’s okay to grow older, to be sick, or to be a disabled person and therefore what we’re witnessing is a very continuous manner of oppression.
Which shows us and tells everybody, that you don’t really want to end up like that because that would be the saddest thing in the world. Therefore, you’d be better off going before you end up like that and that’s a very divisive and undermining thing because everybody has a contribution to make.
People that are really sick or terminally ill don’t want a painful, tortured death and for their children to have to witness them screaming and in agony. They would want to pick the moment in which they are ready to say that this is when I want to go and my children can see me and say goodbye.
Children don’t want to see a parent have a painful death but there are ways of doing that. If you see what the British Medical Association (BMA) are suggesting, they’re utterly against assisted dying and what they’re looking for is a high quality, comprehensive and precise scope of palliative care that guarantees everybody gets the sort of dignified death that they require.
Assisted dying lets a dying person the opportunity to control their death if they determine their pain is intolerable. It is unlawful in the United Kingdom.
The large bulk of the public support a shift in the legislation on assisted dying for the terminally sick, mentally competent adults. This comprises the overall populace, people of faith and people with disabilities.
54 percent of GPs are supportive or open-minded to law reform on assisted dying and polling reveals that 87 percent of people maintain an assisted dying legislation would increase or have no impact on their confidence in doctors.
Amending the legislation would grant a dying person to have free and candid discussions with their doctors regarding assisted dying. This is currently impossible within the law.
The appropriate legislation for the United Kingdom is one that enables dying people, with six months or shorter to have the opportunity to control their death.
Dying people are not suicidal, they don’t want to die but they do not have the determination to live. When death is imminent, suffering should not be. Along with great care, dying people warrant the option to control the timing and manner of their death.
Assisted dying should be established by the dying person. Dying people should have assistance to take the concluding action that brings about their peaceful death.
Dying people are already ending their days to evade painful and undignified deaths. Many spend thousands of pounds to fly abroad to ensure a safe and peaceful death. They do so to obtain a certified and reliable way to manage their death with medical guidance.
Euthanasia is the performance of intentionally ending a person’s life to alleviate pain. For example, a doctor who gives a patient with terminal cancer an overdose of muscle relaxants to terminate their life would be deemed to have carried out euthanasia.
Assisted suicide is the performance of intentionally aiding or abetting another person to kill themselves.
If a relative of a person with a terminal illness were to get strong sedatives, knowing that the person planned to take an overdose of sedatives to kill themselves, they may be deemed to be assisting death.
Both actual euthanasia and assisted suicide are prohibited under English law. Depending on the situations, euthanasia is considered as both manslaughter or murder and is punishable by law, with a supreme punishment of up to life imprisonment.
Assisted suicide is forbidden under the articles of the Suicide Act (1961) and is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Trying to kill yourself is not a criminal act in itself.
Euthanasia can be classified in several ways, including active euthanasia, where a person consciously interposes to terminate someone’s life, for instance, by injecting them with a high dosage of drugs.
Passive euthanasia is where a person causes death by denying or removing treatment that is essential to sustain life, such as denying antibiotics from someone with pneumonia.
Euthanasia can further be categorised as voluntary euthanasia, where a person makes a deliberate determination to die and requests support to do this.
Non-voluntary euthanasia is where a person is powerless to give their permission, for example, because they are in a coma or are severely brain damaged and another person takes the decision on their part, usually because the sick person previously stated a desire for their life to be terminated in such situations.
Involuntary euthanasia is where a person is killed against their expressed wishes.
Depending on the events, voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia could be viewed as both voluntary manslaughter, where someone kills another person, however, factors can somewhat explain their actions or murder.
Involuntary euthanasia is essentially invariably viewed as murder.
If one is nearing the end of life, they have a right to good palliative care, to manage pain and other manifestations, as well as emotional, social and spiritual relief. Therefore they’re allowed to have a say in the treatments they receive at that stage.
For instance, under English legislation, all adults have the freedom to decline medical treatment, as long as they have enough ability to use and interpret information to make a determination. If you know that your capability to give permission may be affected in the future, you can arrange a legally binding advance decision, previously acknowledged as an advance directive.
An advance decision sets out the procedures and treatments that you agree to and those that you do not agree to. This means that the healthcare professionals treating you cannot perform specific procedures or treatments against your wishes.
Active euthanasia is currently only allowed in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Under the legislation in these nations, a person’s life can be intentionally terminated by their doctor or other healthcare experts.
The person is normally given an overdose of muscle relaxants or sedatives. This induces a coma and then death.
Nevertheless, euthanasia is only allowed if the following three criteria are met, that the person has made an actual and voluntary plea to end their life. It is believed that they have enough mental ability to make an informed choice about their care and it is agreed that the person is suffering unbearably and there is no hope for an improvement in their health.
Capacity is the ability to manage and learn information to make a choice.
It’s reasonable to debate about the way arguments get split up on the subject of euthanasia, and various reasonings could fall into several classifications.
Some moral reasoning states that euthanasia undermines society’s regard for the sacredness of life or that allowing euthanasia affirms that some lives, particularly those of the disabled or sick are worth less than others.
Intentional euthanasia could be regarded as the start of a slippery slope that leads to involuntary euthanasia and the slaughter of people who are considered defective and that euthanasia might not be in a person’s real interests.
Euthanasia affects other people’s rights, not merely those of the patient.
There is rational reasoning that says that decent palliative care makes euthanasia unnecessary and that there’s no way of properly monitoring euthanasia.
Furthermore supporting euthanasia would lead to less good care for the terminally sick. Also, allowing euthanasia undermines the commitment of doctors and nurses to preserving lives. However, euthanasia could become a cost-effective method to treat the terminally sick.
Moreover supporting euthanasia could hinder the exploration for new cures and treatments for the terminally sick and that euthanasia weakens the urge to give great care for the dying, and good pain relief.
In April 2002, the Netherlands became the prime nation to sanction euthanasia and assisted suicide. It inflicted a stringent set of requirements, that the patient must be experiencing unacceptable pain, their disability must be incurable, and the request must be made in absolute awareness by the patient. In 2010, 3,136 people were given a deadly cocktail under medical supervision.
So-called palliative sedation has further become a broad practice in hospitals, with 15,000 cases a year following 2005. Patients with a life anticipation of two weeks or shorter are put in a medically induced coma, and all nutrition and hydration are removed.
The law has stirred a furious dispute over the right to suicide because assisted suicide outside of the standards established for euthanasia is still prohibited and is calculated as a homicide.
In France euthanasia and assisted suicide is against the law. The president, François Hollande, pledged to look at the right to die with dignity but has constantly dismissed any plan of sanctioning euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In 2005 the Léonetti law introduced the idea of the right to be left to die. Under stringent circumstances it enabled doctors to decide to restrict or hinder any treatment that is not beneficial, is disproportionate or has no other purpose than to artificially lengthen life and to use pain-killing medicines that might as a side effect, shorten life.
Two recent high-profile incidents have made the headlines because a doctor was accused of supplying drugs that accelerated the deaths of seven ageing patients and was acquitted, and France’s high court approved doctors to quit treating and feeding a young man who had been in a vegetative state on life support for six years.
In the last case, the patient’s parents had appealed to the European court of human rights and were anticipating a determination. A parliamentary paper on the matter was expected.
In the United States doctors are authorised to prescribe deadly dosages of medication to terminally sick patients in five US states. Euthanasia, nevertheless, is prohibited. In recent years, the aid in the dying movement has made incremental gains, however, the issue continues to be uncertain.
Oregon was the leading US state to sanction assisted suicide. The legislation took effect in 1997 and allows for terminally sick, mentally able patients with fewer than six months to live to ask for a prescript for life-ending medication.
More than a decade later, Washington state approved a proposal that was moulded on Oregon’s legislation. Plus last year, the Vermont lawmakers passed a comparable bill. Court judgments declared the practice constitutional in Montana and, most recently, in New Mexico.
In 2013, about 300 terminally sick Americans were prescribed deadly prescriptions, and about 230 people died as a consequence of taking them. Some patients prefer not to take the medication.
In Germany and Switzerland, the word euthanasia is usually shunned because of its connection with the eugenicist methods of the Nazi period. The law, therefore, tends to differentiate between assisted suicide (beihilfe zum suizid) and active assisted suicide (aktive sterbehilfe).
In Germany and Switzerland, active assisted suicide, ie a doctor prescribing and giving over a deadly medicine is banned. However German and Swiss legislation does permit assisted suicide within specific conditions.
In Germany, assisted suicide is allowed as long as the lethal drug is taken without any aid, such as someone supervising or helping the patient’s hand. In Switzerland, the code is more informal. It allows assisted suicide as long as there are no self-seeking reasons involved.
Switzerland has tolerated the creation of groups such as Dignitas and Exit, which grant assisted dying assistance for a payment, after all, everything has its cost even death.
In a poll, two-thirds of Germans stated they would approve a bill that authorised active assisted suicide too. However, the government has declared it wants to toughen the legislation around assisted suicide, with the health minister, Hermann Gröhe, declaring that he wants to outlaw groups like Dignitas in Germany.
Belgium enacted a bill in 2002 legalising euthanasia, becoming another country in the world to do so. The bill states doctors can assist patients to terminate their lives when they openly declare a desire to die because they are experiencing unmanageable and intolerable pain.
Patients can further receive euthanasia if they have explicitly affirmed it before entering a Coma or a comparable vegetative phase.
Assisted suicide is not specified in the bill, which does not define a means of euthanasia. They don’t make a distinction in the semantics. Nevertheless, the doctor has to be present at the bedside of the patient to their last breath, unlike the Oregon rule where the doctor provides just the prescript of drugs.
Some people have their individual motives for wanting to terminate their lives, particularly if their life is coming to a close and they’re in agonising pain. We think nothing of putting a pet out of its pain because it’s in distress or it has cancer and nothing can be done about it, yet we have to see our loved ones suffer till the very end.
Morally it is sinful to put someone out of their suffering, but if it is their choice, then shouldn’t we consider that request and let them go out with some sort of dignity?
There have been continued endeavours to sanction assisted dying with the assistance of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia across the United Kingdom, for those who have made a distinct determination, free from pressure, to end their lives and who are actually incapable of doing so themselves.
In numerous instances, there is a clear ethical case to restrict support to the terminally sick and there should be a reformation of the bill that would be sympathetic to the demands of other people who are enduringly or incurably suffering.
In recent years organisations have mediated in support of Tony and Jane Nicklinson’s and Paul Lamb’s struggles to improve the legislation on assisted dying for the terminally sick and incurably suffering by taking human rights cases through the courts, as well as supported parliamentary efforts to sanction assisted dying for the terminally sick.
Humanists support the freedom of each person to live by his or her own particular preferences, and the autonomy to make choices about his or her own life so long as this does not result in injury to others. Humanists do not share the attitudes to dying embraced by some spiritual devotees, in particular, that the method and moment of dying are for a divinity to choose, and that intervention in the course of nature is unacceptable.
Of course, we should firmly uphold the right to life but we should further understand that this freedom brings with it the freedom of each person to make his or her own decision about whether his or her life should be lengthened in the face of unnecessary suffering.
Currently, the needs and autonomy of patients are frequently overlooked. Numerous people are in fact assisted to die by doctors or nurses but without the safeguards that law would bring. Sympathetic doctors, who support the choices of their terminally sick or incurably suffering patients by helping them to die, and risk being charged with assisting suicide or murder.
The prevailing policy further results in close relatives being faced with the immensely difficult decisions of whether, knowing that it is illegal, to help a loved one who is pleading for relief to put an end to their misery or not to act and therefore lengthen their pain.
No one should be put in the situation of having to make such judgments, or certainly into a situation where they think that they have no other alternative but to terminate the life of someone they love.
Being able to die, with dignity, in a method of our choice must be recognised to be a major human right, a position established by the landmark decision in the Purdy case, where our greatest court established that the European Convention on Human Rights can be invoked in association to the end of life.
Sanctioning assisted dying would guarantee that stringent judicial safeguards are in position and enable people to make conscious judgments over their end of life care, freed from pressure. The option of an assisted dying should not be instead of palliative care for terminally sick people, but a core component of overall, patient-centered approaches to end of life care.
It is essential that there are clear safeguards in any assisted dying legislation and worldwide data from nations where assisted dying is lawful displays that safeguards can be useful, and recently assisted dying laws in the United Kingdom have had effective safeguards written into them.
Humanists UK was the only group to mediate in support of Tony and Jane Nicklinson and Paul Lamb’s difficulties to the illegality of assisted dying in the United Kingdom.
Initially, Tony, who had locked-in syndrome following being paralysed in an accident and only being able to move some muscles in his face, disputed at the High Court that his right to private life was disrupted by the fact that he could not be helped to die.
Nevertheless, following the High Court decreed against him in the summer of 2012, Tony died. As a result, Tony’s wife Jane took up the matter at the Court of Appeal, claiming that her right to family life was disrupted by the fact that her husband was refused an assisted death.
Paul Lamb, who also has locked-in syndrome, further became a petitioner on the same grounds as Tony, while Humanists UK mediated in aid of Tony, Jane and Paul. At the Supreme Court Humanists UK was backed by witness accounts from humanist philosophers Professor Simon Blackburn, Professor A C Grayling, Professor John Harris, and Professor Richard Norman, as well as the pathologist Professor John Lee and Sir Terry Pratchett.
The cases were declined by the Court of Appeal in 2013, the Supreme Court in 2014, and the European Court of Human Rights in 2015. Nevertheless, in rejecting the proceedings, a preponderance of Supreme Court judges showed their willingness to contemplate declaring a declaration of incompatibility between UK legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights’ right to private/family life, but as the issue is such a high profile public ethical issue, a preponderance further decreed that it was right to Parliament to first of all endeavor to settle the matters at hand.
This judgment was mimicked by the European Court.
The judges took this approach in part because they were conscious that at the time the House of Lords was contemplating a private member’s bill, tabled by Lord Falconer, that aimed to approve assisted dying for terminally sick people with fewer than six months to live, but not incurably suffering people like Tony and Paul.
However, while the proposal passed through the 2nd reading stage of discussion in summer 2014, it made no additional development before the 2015 general election as the Government declined to schedule enough time for it to be completely debated.
Following the general election, two additional assisted dying proposals have been tabled. In the House of Commons, Rob Marris MP’s proposal was discussed in September 2015 and lost its second reading vote indicating it too will proceed no further.
Furthermore, MSPs voted against a Scottish bill in May. In the meantime, Lord Falconer has re-tabled his proposal in the House of Lords, but again the Government has indicated that it will not schedule enough time for it to progress before the end of the parliamentary assembly.
This indicates that any development on the bill around assisted dying before 2020 will apparently have to come through the courts.
Humanists UK has proceeded to work on this matter regardless, for example with people such as Simon Binner and Jeffrey Spector, who have used their individual suffering to highlight the injustice of the illegality of assisted dying.
In 2011 a new Commission on Assisted Dying was founded, as a way of preparing for Lord Falconer’s proposal. Humanists UK was summoned to give testimony to the Committee. They gave verbal testimony in March, accompanied by a written submission in April.
In May 2010, Humanists UK presented a memorandum to the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee, which is examining The End of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament.
In February 2010, they supported proposals for a nonpartisan inquiry into the law on assisted dying for terminally sick adults and instructed members of the House of Lords for a discussion on the matter, and in March they asked MPs to call for legalisation of assisted dying in the United Kingdom.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has published a prosecuting policy in instances of assisted suicide, listing the rules that are taken into account when determining whether or not to prosecute someone who has helped another person in ending their life.
This plan was formed in response to a judgement of the Law Lords in the notable example of Debby Purdy, Multiple Sclerosis suffer who strongly fought in the UK’s highest court that it was her prerogative to know the grounds on which a prosecution may be made against her husband if he assisted her at a later date.
Humanists UK reacted to the initial draft policy in 2009, and presented a comprehensive memorandum, before embracing the final prosecution guidelines on their release in 2010. Nevertheless, it is Humanists UK’s staunch belief that the legislation on assisted dying in the United Kingdom is in demand of thorough reformation.
They think that legalisation, with stringent safeguards in place, is ethically greatly better than our existing law and would be by far the best way to protect vulnerable people.
Throughout the passage of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, they briefed Parliamentarians on an amendment which would eliminate the threat of prosecution for those attending terminally sick loved ones overseas for an assisted death, in a country where that is allowed, but, that amendment did not succeed.
In 2006 they supported Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which was overturned in the Lords on 12th May 2006. Ahead of its second reading in the Lords, Humanists UK published research that exposed the breadth of the religious lobby on the Bill, and the scaremongering and misinformation being given out by religious assemblies about the issues.
Humanists UK continues to lobby government for a change in the legislation and will make submissions to government on any prospective Bills which propose to amend the law around assisted dying.
Humanists UK discusses with its members on the subjects of assisted dying/assisted suicide/voluntary euthanasia, through their newsletters, web forums and local humanist group discussions. They embrace comments on these points, which serve to develop their campaigns.
To date, members have seldom displayed resistance to the legalisation of assisted dying, provided that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect patients, their families and doctors.
Not everybody agrees with assisted dying, but that should be down to the patient themselves on the decisions that they make, so long as they are not coerced into something they don’t want to do.
If the patient calls for assisted dying then there should be no punishment and they should be permitted to die with some manner of decorum. There should be a bill that makes it easier and not to hinder and support should be there.
Of course, we should not encourage people to die, but for those people that are in such pain or dying, then they should not be permitted to languish in their pain, yet there should be some manner of control on the way legislation is set out in such circumstances.
If we are going to go down the moral path, there is no morality in a person that is suffering from such pain and we have no right to hinder that judgment that the patient has made and it should be pointed out that this is not a shopping centre for people who simply want to terminate their life, this is solely for people who are dying or are in such pain that there is no other choice, and it is their decision.
At the end of the day people decide to have children all the time, but we do not intervene on that choice, neither do we meddle if a couple chooses not to have children, it is their decision, so why do we take away the right from a terminally ill person, the decision to terminate their life?
What gives us the power to determine the outcome of another person?