Protest against Assisted Dying Bill, in Westminster, on Friday

Some of the effects of the proposed legislation can be seen in history. In many parts of Europe in the eighteenth century, it was the custom for the elderly to be killed or commit suicide when they were judged to be a burden to their families. One of the Georges rescued an elderly man, who was about to jump off a cliff for this reason, when they were riding through their duchy in Germany. The man lived for another twenty years at their court. I’ve been informed by a friend of mine, who studied this issue, that in Britain they turned such killing into a party, when a group met to smother the elderly or disabled person with a pillow, the noise of the party being intended to block out their screams. There is a profound danger that all this will return with this bill, regardless of the good intentions of people like Patrick Stewart. Pope John Paul II enraged secularists by referring to the Enlightenment as a ‘culture of death’. It was a gross exaggeration, but in this case he does have a point. It brings the country a little closer to the world envisioned by Friedrich Nietzsche. In his ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, the philosopher of the atheist existentialist superman said ‘The problem isn’t that human life is too short. It is that some people live too long’. As for Patrick Steward, some of us can remember an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which an elderly scientist petitions Picard and the crew of the Enterprise for asylum. He comes from a culture where it is the law that people voluntarily commit suicide in special chambers on their 65th birthday. In this fictional world, this law was brought in to prevent them becoming a burden to their families, and dying in pain and squalor. They are surrounded by their families in a special, celebratory day when they take their own lives. This was a case of the writers of Star Trek trying to discuss a real issue maturely. However, real situations are too complex to fit nicely into a fifty-minute screen play with satisfying plot resolution, and the treatment can seem to be shocking shallow. The scientist in that episode is fit and healthy. The only thing against him is his age. He is, however, eventually persuade by his family to return to his world, where he can die with dignity by his own hand surrounded by them. In reality, the situation could be very different. This judgement brings us closer to that fictional world.

Mike Sivier's blog

assisted dying

The next debate on the controversial Assisted Dying Bill is to take place in the House of Lords on Friday – and all those opposed to the Bill are invited to attend a planned public protest outside the House while the debate is taking place.

An online petition has also been raised on the Change.org website. This states:

Lord Falconer’s bill aims to make it legal for doctors to end the lives of those they judge to be terminally ill, if the dying individual requests this intervention. This issue affects everyone, but our experience as disabled people informs our belief that the law should not be changed.

Not Dead Yet UK opposes this because:

  • It would be unacceptably dangerous to make it legal for one individual to end the life of another, because statutory safeguards cannot be made effective;
  • Clear evidence from other countries, where assisted dying has been introduced…

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