There has been much discussion in the media about the desirability of ‘assisted dying’. The controversy over whether the Liverpool Care Pathway is a covert form of hurrying us to the grave or simply the best way to die peacefully has brought the question into the news. Before you read any further, just pause and ask yourself what percentage, do you think, of people in our population would favour a change in the law to allow this.
Opinions have recently been sought through a YouGov poll of 4000 people. This is a good-sized sample, and the YouGov methodology should give us confidence that the results are broadly accurate.
Some 16 percent were actively opposed to a change , and another 14 percent “were torn.” But, overall, seven out of ten believed that “people with ‘incurable’ illnesses should have the right to ask close friends or relatives to help them commit suicide, without the risk of those people being prosecuted.”
The main reasons given for championing “assisted dying” were the “rights” people had over their own lives, and the belief that it was better than prolonged suffering. About a third believed that the NHS could not provide decent end-of-life care.
So how do we feel about this? We all know the standard answer that our life is a gift from God and that suicide in whatever form can never be right. Do we actually believe this? Would we still believe this if we were dying in extreme pain and our relatives were willing to provide us with the, painless, fatal dose? Or if a much loved relative were to ask us to ease them out of life?
And, if we still maintained that it would be wrong, are we entitled to impose our prohibition on “assisted dying” over the rest of our society?
Telegaph report on the survey at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10026314/NHS-fears-fuelling-support-for-assisted-suicide-poll-suggests.html
See my column ‘How they die in Liverpool’ via the search box (top right hand side).