Author Martin Amis wants euthanasia on UK’s streets

Wed, 27 Jan 2010

Author Martin Amis has called for euthanasia booths on street corners, where elderly people can commit suicide.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Amis described the UK’s ageing population as a “silver tsunami”.

He said: “There’ll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops.

“I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years’ time.”

He added: “There should be a booth on every corner where you could get a martini and a medal.”

Describing a certain point when “life slips into the negative”, Mr Amis said there should be a “way out for rational people who have decided they’re in the negative”.

He went on: “That should be available, and it should be quite easy. I can’t think it would be too hard to establish some sort of test that shows that you understand.”

Since Mr Amis’ comments were made in the Sunday newspaper some commentators have speculated that the author was not being serious.

However during a public meeting on Monday Mr Amis denied this, according to Michael Deacon writing on The Daily Telegraph website.

Mr Amis said: “I mean it quite seriously”.

He admitted the idea of euthanasia booths is “utopian”, saying “it’ll never happen, or not for a very long time.”

But he added: “when you’re 70, you don’t feel like walking under a bus – you want something easier than that.”

Mr Amis’ comments have been described as “offensive” and “repugnant” by the pro-life group Care Not Killing.

Dr Richard Lamerton, of the pressure group ALERT, which campaigns against legalised euthanasia, expressed concern at Mr Amis’ comments.

He said that “to give elderly people the message that it would only be decent to get out of the way would be to deny the wonderful contribution of grandfathers and grandmothers to the lives of young people”.

The danger of vulnerable people feeling pressured into assisted suicide has previously been raised by disability groups.

Last month a coalition of disability groups led by disabled peer Baroness Campbell said that “to see suicide as a right solution is to abandon hope.

“Severely ill and terminally ill people do not deserve society to give up on them.”

The disability groups warned that it was “profoundly unhelpful for society to be endorsing or encouraging any disabled person to see their request for assistance to die as reasonable or completely understandable.”

The groups were responding to guidelines on assisted suicide which were drawn up by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer QC.

The guidelines were published in response to a court decision by the Law Lords which found in favour of assisted suicide campaigner Debbie Purdy.

Prominent politicians and doctors’ groups have also spoken out against any weakening of Britain’s assisted suicide laws.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has said he is against any change in the law while also setting out his personal opposition to assisting suicide.

Last week the Royal College of Physicians expressed its opposition to the practice saying: “Assisting suicide has been clearly and expressly outside our duty of care since Hippocrates and must remain so for the integrity of these professions and the public good.”

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