Legalising assisted suicide could result in a society where people feel a duty to die, a columnist has said.
Writing for The Times, Tim Montgomerie explains that Lord Falconer’s ‘Assisted Dying’ Bill could make the idea of “terminating life when it is past its sell-by date” mainstream.
Earlier this week Liberal Democrat health minister, Norman Lamb, expressed his personal support for assisted suicide.
Montgomerie said, however, that “we shouldn’t be under any illusions about the journey it would set the country on”.
“Wherever assisted suicide (or any other form of euthanasia) has been legalised for narrow circumstances, a loophole opens up through which convoys of hearses are driven”, he added.
He goes on to describe how in the Netherlands people “with early dementia are already being visited by mobile euthanasia units”.
The controversial scheme, launched by a Dutch pro-euthanasia campaign group in March 2012, involves teams travelling around the Netherlands and responding to those who wish to commit suicide.
Belgium’s liberal laws have allowed elderly couples to organise joint deaths. Earlier this year, its euthanasia laws were extended to terminally ill children of all ages.
Montgomerie notes that in Belgium doctors “encourage each other to look out for suicidal patients whose organs can be harvested.
“In one PowerPoint presentation it was noted that patients with neuro-muscular diseases were good potential donors because, unlike cancer sufferers, they have ‘high-quality organs'”, the columnist said.
He believes Britain will not be any different given that it is unable to properly regulate banks or the police.
Comparing the current debate around assisted suicide to the liberalisation of abortion, he said it was initially introduced to end back-street abortions. But instead it is now used to end “late-term pregnancies because of a cleft lip or a club foot”.
He writes that “assisted dying laws would soon become lethal tools in the hands of activist judges, greedy relatives and financially stretched health services”.
Investing in palliative medicine is a better solution to ensuring that people’s final years are “not unhappy or painful”, he added.
“I, for one, don’t want doctors, or the State, to be given the power to kill the old, the elderly or the disabled. I fear where it might lead.”