Thursday, August 23, 2012

Assisted dying: still illegal, still controversial

The death yesterday of a British advocate for medically assisted death for terminally ill patients brings back the debate about whether physician assisted suicide should always be a repugnant transaction.

Here's the BBC's story: Right-to-die man Tony Nicklinson dead after refusing food

"Tony Nicklinson, a man with locked-in syndrome who fought for the right to legally end his life, has died.

"The 58-year-old was paralysed from the neck down after suffering a stroke in 2005 and described his life as a "living nightmare".

"Last week Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham, Wiltshire, lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life.

"Mr Nicklinson's family solicitor said that he had refused food from last week."

Here's the NY Times: British Man Who Fought for Assisted Suicide Is Dead

"A 58-year-old British man suffering from so-called locked-in syndrome died on Wednesday, six days after the nation’s High Court rejected his request for help in ending his life. His death is certain to galvanize the already contentious debate about assisted suicide in Britain."

And here's an article about the controversy, in favor of a change in the laws against assisted suicice, published a few days earlier (it appears): The case for assisted dying

"The case for a law to legalise the choice of physician-assisted dying for mentally competent people with terminal illness, who have expressed a settled wish to die, is very easily stated. Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care, and inflicted on a dying patient against their will, is an unequivocal evil. What’s more, the right to have your choices supported by others, to determine your own best interest, when you are of sound mind, is sovereign. And this is accepted by a steady 80-plus per cent of the UK population in successive surveys.

"Even so, after decades of campaigning, the law has yet to change. How can this be? The answer is simple: there has been a highly organised opposition by individuals and groups, largely with strong religious beliefs that forbid assistance to die. "

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