Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Assisted dying is a slippery slope

(Credit: Getty images)

What are your thoughts on assisted dying and assisted suicide? That’s the question asked by a Health and Social Care Committee consultation, closing today, that could shape changes to the law on euthanasia. Having had intimate experience of what can happen when a vulnerable person feels themselves to be a burden, I’m against.

My mother had Parkinson’s, and once she burst out to me that: ‘You’d have so much more time and money if it weren’t for me’. It would be the easiest thing in the world to push someone in that condition towards feeling that it would be better for everyone if she were given a dignified death. Actually my mother did have a dignified death, at home, even though, by then, she had to have everything done for her.

The other reason to avoid assisted suicide is that we’ve already seen how it turns out

The notion that families must always have the best interests of their vulnerable relatives at heart is risible. Doubtless most do, but a friend who works as a health care assistant and does end of life plans with elderly patients in London tells me about cases where children want what’s best for them, not their relations: viz, the parental property; one lady begged him not to let her daughter know if she were dying because she was scared of her.

The other reason to avoid assisted suicide is that we’ve already seen how it turns out. There would be umpteen safeguards around any euthanasia legislation, but what has happened in other civilised jurisdictions is that the slippery slope has become a black run: within a decade or so, groups that were unlikely to have been envisaged as candidates for assisted dying are included on humanitarian grounds.

The Dutch government approved extending euthanasia for terminally ill children between the ages of one and 12 if the parents wanted it.

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