Guardian writer: ‘safeguards’ worthless on assisted suicide

If assisted suicide were allowed, proposed safeguards could not ultimately be trusted, a Guardian writer has said.

Andrew Brown says the “changing interpretations” of the law on abortion “show how little legal safeguards are worth when the sentiment behind them evaporates”.

He does not agree with claims that “the right kind of legislation, with the clearest possible safeguards, will stop unwanted grannies being liquidated for their asset value”.


His comments follow the death of locked-in sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who unsuccessfully campaigned for doctors to be allowed to end his life for him.

Mr Brown said: “Really demented and unpleasant old people can appear rather less human than foetuses do and the changing interpretations of the Abortion Act show how little legal safeguards are worth when the sentiment behind them evaporates.

“Whether or not you think that British women ought to have access to abortion on demand, that’s not what the law says, nor what parliament intended in 1967.


“If a mother has the right to dispose of an unwanted foetus, why doesn’t a daughter have the right to dispose of an unwanted, incoherent and incontinent old person whose miserable life will only ever get worse?

“What could be easier than to propose to such a creature that its life is not in fact worth living?

“The Tony Nicklinsons are the easy cases to legislate for, not just because they are rare”, he concluded.


His comments came in response to a poll, published by the British Humanist Association, on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Two newly appointed health ministers have recently lent their personal support to assisted suicide.


Conservative Anna Soubry said it is “ridiculous and appalling” that Britons “have to go abroad to end their life”.

And Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb said his “personal view is that there is a case for reform”.

Earlier this year one of Britain’s leading opponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide warned against a coordinated push from pro-euthanasia activists.

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