What is Euthanasia?Euthanasia refers to the deliberate killing of a person supposedly for the benefit of that person. It issometimes termed “mercy killing”. Current campaigns are focused on VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA. This is where a person makes a conscious decision to die and asks for help to do this.
In 2004 Dignity in Dying asked the question: “Do you think a person who is sufferingunbearably from a terminal illness should beallowed by law to receive medical help to die, if that is what they want?”82% of people who responded said yes ASSISSTED DYING FOR THE TERMINALLY ILL BILL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200405/ldselect/ldasdy/86/86i.pdf
Dignity in Dying campaigns forVoluntary Euthanasia to be made legal in Britain.They believe that if a patient withan incurable disease has signed a declaration then doctors shouldbe allowed to help that person to die peacefully. http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/They argue that voluntary euthanasia is quick and humane way to end a person’s unbearable suffering and that of the family. They believe that everyone has the ‘right’ to decide how and when he or she should die.
The Current Law in the UK VOLUNTARY EUTHANSIA IS ILLEGAL IN THE UKVoluntary euthanasia is treated as murder even if the person dying has asked for assistance to die from their doctor.What does this mean? If a doctor at the patient’s request gives him or her a lethal injection then this would be classed as MURDER. If a doctor places the lethal injection by the patient’s side and the patient injects him or herself the doctor would be charged with ASSISTED SUICIDE. Many people would like to see this changed.
The Current Law in the UKThe Suicide Act of 1961stated that anyone thatassists in a suicide could receive up to 14 years in prison. However 92 Britons have gone abroad to Dignitas in Switzerland (where Voluntary Euthanasia is legal). No family member has been prosecuted for helping. http://www.dignitas.ch/index.php?lang=en Dignitas have clear criteria that must be met.
Clarification Needed?Due of the inconsistencies between the law and prosecution pressures groupsand individuals, such as Debbie Purdy, have tried to get the law clarified. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/la # She launched a case to clarify whether or not her husband would risk being prosecuted if he helped her travel to a No Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to die. guidance Purdys case ended on in 2009 with the decision that the Director of Public has yet Prosecutions had to clarify how the been Suicide Act 1961 is to be enforced in England and Wales published
Assisted Dying Bill 2006Lord Joffes bill, which had its second reading on Friday 12th May2006, proposed that after signing a legal declaration that theywanted to die, a patients doctor could prescribe a lethal dose ofmedication that the patient could take themselves in order to endtheir life. This could only be done if the following applied:•Only people with less than six months to live•who are suffering unbearably•deemed to be of sound mind•not depressed The House of Lords unanimously rejected any change in the law to permit euthanasia, arguing “It would be next to impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary and that any liberalisation of the law was not abused.”
Why might someone oppose a change in legislation surrounding Euthanasia? One of the main arguments against legalisingeuthanasia is that it even if we come up with verystrict criteria of when it can be used, within time this will become more and more lenient. However evidence for the Netherlands suggests that this will not happen. DOCTOR-AIDED SUICIDE: No Slippery Slope, Study Finds http:// www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070926191348.htm
Support in Parliament“I sincerely believe that everyone has the right to die with dignity and understanding.” (Mo Mowlam, Former Cabinet Minister)“I am writing to let you know of my support for your campaign to legalise voluntary euthanasia.”(Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London in a letter to Dignity in Dying)
The British Medical Association dropped its historic opposition to euthanasia during 2005, adopting a neutral stance on the issue.Doctors are no longer against changes to the law whichwould allow terminally ill patients to be helped to die. "The BMA should not oppose legislation which alters the criminal law but should press for robust safeguards both for patients and for doctors who not wish to be involved in such procedures."
Famous Cases “I have tried every type of medical treatment offered. If Iam allowed to choose when and how I die I will feel that I will have kept hold of my dignity.That is how I want my family to The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Monday thatremember me-as someone who terminally-ill Diane Pretty did not have the right to die. respected the law and asked in http:// turn for the law to respect my news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1958270.stm rights” Diane Petty Dies (DIANE PETTY, mother of two, motor http:// neurone disease sufferer. Diane lost her news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1983457.stm case at the court of human rights.)
Videos to watch for more informationArguments for changes in the lawhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/argument-for-legalised-voluntary-Doctors argue about legislationhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/doctors-explain-the-pros-anAnn Turners storyhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/a-story-of-assisted-suicide/459.htmShould people be allowed to die? (radio discussion)http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7677000/7677533.stm