Lord Falconer’s assisted suicide Bill would “turn doctors into executioners”, a columnist in The Times newspaper has warned.
Melanie Phillips said the Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Lords next week, would enable medics to do the equivalent of pushing a disabled person off a cliff if they had requested it.
She pointed out that opposition to assisted suicide is softening “in part because of the way campaigners have manipulated the language in order to reframe the debate”.
Phillips noted the change in name for the campaign group ‘Voluntary Euthanasia Society’ to ‘Dignity in Dying’ – a move which she said instantly “transformed” killing into dying.
“The unconscionable was thus turned into the unstoppable. The seedy and sinister became enlightened and compassionate”, she commented.
The Bill would allow terminally ill patients to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves.
But Phillips highlighted the way similar laws introduced in other countries have gradually grown in scope.
In Belgium children can now be euthanised and in the Netherlands, Phillips said, “‘voluntary’ euthanasia quickly morphed into killing the mentally frail”.
“As the wheelchair-bound Baroness Campbell observed, once society permits the deliberate procurement of someone’s death all bets are off.
“If this is permitted for the terminally ill, why not for those with chronic or progressive conditions? And if for them, why not for disabled people?” she added.
In 2010, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued guidelines that said anyone who assisted in someone’s suicide “out of compassion” was unlikely to be charged.