Supporters of assisted suicide talk a lot about compassion. ‘How can anyone stand silently by and watch such unspeakable suffering?’ they ask, voices throbbing with emotion.
Never mind the fact they argue from exceptional – though admittedly heart breaking – cases. And never mind the fact that most of the situations where people choose to go down this route don’t actually meet the terminal illness guidelines that advocates have laid down. The clear implication is that if you disagree with the apparently reasonable proposition of ‘choice’, on which the current campaign is founded, you are a hard hearted and uncaring, religious fundamentalist of the worst sort. So it’s time for you to ditch the dogma and tune into 21st century Britain; where we have the right to pick and choose anything and everything we want.
But a more rational examination quickly reveals some major flaws. For example, the slippery slope argument. When the Abortion Act became law in 1967, it was envisaged that at most there would be no more than 300 abortions a year, and then only for the most extreme cases, such as rape or life threatening foetal abnormality. Within five years, as women all over the country leapt on the juggernaut of no-consequence sex, the slippery slope predicted had become a downhill plunge of quite dizzying proportion. From around 21,000 reported abortions in 1966 (all but 30 performed legally, on medical grounds) the number had leapt by 1972 to a staggering 167,493. We have never looked back.
Fast forward then to today and the arguments in favour of assisted suicide. Proponents argue it will be confined to those suffering from terminal illness, with less than six months to live.
Are they really so naïve as actually to believe this, or are they deliberately lying?
The cynical will suspect the latter. Especially given the comments of some advocates, who are on record as saying their ultimate goal is legalization of euthanasia. On 20th September 2008, for example, Baroness Warnock was reported in the Daily Mail as saying that old people with dementia had a duty to die, and should be ‘pushed’ towards death. At the time, from the more mealy mouthed, there was an outcry; but others voiced support, and she is not alone.
Yet even if current proposals could be limited to those suffering terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less – how could we possibly enforce it? After all, there are many recorded situations of patients being given six months to live, and then surviving for another decade. Some are even recorded as having made a total recovery! While over in Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997 and we have recorded data, a high percentage of patients with a life expectancy of less than six months and given a lethal prescription, are recorded as still not having taken the medication two years later. Similarly, in New York State (where assisted suicide is again legal), it was recorded in 2014 that, of the 63 patients prescribed a lethal dose of medication, 36 subsequently died as result of ingesting the medication, 7 died naturally, data was missing for 4, and data for the remaining 16 was classified as “pending” (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/742070_3 ).
So it is immediately obvious that the six month rule is unenforceable. But perhaps more to the point – and of obvious concern, one would have thought – is the fact that 99% of cases used in the UK to support the Bill do not meet this criterion anyway. Debbie Purdy, for instance, suffering from multiple sclerosis and leading assisted suicide campaigner, starved herself to death. Tony Bland, left in a persistent vegetative state after suffering brain damage, had his life support system turned off at the request of his family. Tony Nicklinson, tragically suffering from locked in syndrome for 7 years as result of a stroke, again starved himself to death….
Let us make no mistake, this Bill, if passed, will ultimately become a mandate for bringing about death, with or without the consent of the patient. And, life being what it is (pardon the pun), application and enforcement in the not too distant future will be driven not by compassion, but by financial considerations. We are already seeing this in Oregon, for example, where cancer patients are apparently being denied expensive treatment by the Oregon health authority, which offers instead to pay for assisted suicide (http://dredf.org/public-policy/assisted-suicide/some-oregon-assisted-suicide-abuses-and-complications/ ).
The sad, but inescapable, conclusion is that today, in our advanced Western society, the individual increasingly only has value so long as he or she remains “useful”. Everyone else, including the disabled, the depressed – and maybe, in the future, even those on long-term benefits – is not only expendable but, increasingly, a drain on resources. Get rid!
Is this really the kind of society in which we want to live? Where the elderly and infirm are put down, like animals, when they become a burden on the rest of us? And do those of us who support, or more likely acquiesce in, these end-plans for the burdensome, not realize that one day they’ll be applied to our loved ones, or to us, too? And there will be nothing we can do to stop it.
VfJUK is reliably informed that supporters of assisted suicide are writing to their MPs in droves. So if this in any way concerns you, please do the same, and write to your MP today.
For further information and contact details for your MP go to www.notoassistedsuicide.org.uk
Don’t delay – write today!