Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Should assisted suicide be a legal transaction? The debate continues.

The debate in England about whether the laws criminalizing assisted suicide should be changed has grown agonizing to follow, with a televised account of one man's suicide at the Swiss clinic that has been the subject of so much earlier discussion. The Times reports: Suicide on TV Condemned in Britain.
"Public opinion polls suggest that 80 percent of Britons believe the law should be changed to allow a doctor to end a patient's life in a case like Ewert's, but opposition from influential religious groups remains strong and the anti-suicide law remains in place."

The Other Times reports: Gordon Brown refuses to back law allowing assisted suicides
"Campaigners seeking to lift the ban on assisted suicide were dealt a blow yesterday when Gordon Brown repeated his opposition to a change in the law.
The Prime Minister said that he would never support legislation to permit assisted suicide that might put sick or elderly people under pressure to end their life. Privately, some politicians criticised him, claiming that he had breached a convention of government neutrality by expressing a view on an issue recognised as one of conscience rather than party policy.
His comments came as a television documentary last night showed the death of Craig Ewert, a motor neuron disease sufferer, the first time that footage of an assisted suicide including the moment of death had been broadcast in Britain.

In related stories, British prosecutors have decided not to prosecute the parents of the former rugby player for accompanying him to Switzerland: No charge for parents who took son, Daniel James, to suicide clinic

In the U.S., physician assisted suicide is legal only in Washington State and Oregon--here's a discussion in the New England Journal of Medicine: Physician-Assisted Death — From Oregon to Washington State

The debate about whether a patient with a terminal disease who wishes to hasten his death may legally do so, and may receive medical assistance, echoes in many ways similar debates about other repugnant transactions, i.e. transactions that some people don't want others to make. (My earlier posts on the debate over assisted suicide are here, here, here, here, and, tangentially, here.)


Kevin B. O'Reilly said...

Mr. Roth, you're wrong. Physician-assisted suicide is also legal in Montana.

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