Monday, 17 October 2011

Melanie Phillips exposes the "terminal spin of 'assisted dying'"

Melanie Phillips, the prominent conservative columnist, has written an excellent rebuttal of pro-euthanasia propaganda from Raymond Tallis, a professor and leading figure in the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (which now trades under the pseudonym "Dignity In Dying"). In addition to Mrs Phillips' excellent points, I would emphasise that so-called "assisted dying" is also being promoted through a push to amend the law on assisted suicide, but also via the Mental Capacity Act 2005. That law allows - and in certain cases mandates - doctors to deny food, fluids and reasonable medical treatment to patients who are neither terminally-ill nor in the immediate dying process (i.e. only days to live). The Mental Capacity Act enshrined certain pro-euthanasia principles found in the 1993 Bland judgment and in subsequent similar court cases. Do read Mrs Phillips' column in full, but here are a few key extracts:
  • "[T]he word ‘dying’ has turned into what one might classify as a piece of terminal spin. It is used to avoid spelling out that what is actually being proposed by Dignity in Dying is killing -- either helping people to kill themselves, which is what assisted dying is, or causing them to be killed either by a positive action (for example, a lethal injection) or the absence of life-sustaining action (for example, depriving them of food or water)."
  • "[E]ven terminally ill people may well not be dying when they ask to die. If so, the person assisting them with this request is not helping them to die -- because they are not dying – but to kill themselves."
  • "It can never be in society’s best interests that anyone should be killed because they are ill, or that the health service should be turned into a death service."
  • "Even more alarming is his core assertion that doctors must not go against majority opinion ... [W]hatever public opinion may say doctors have an overriding duty to an ethical code that says ‘first do no harm’ ... What if public opinion were to demand, for example, that mentally handicapped people should be killed? In such circumstances, doctors’ ethics provide vital protection against tyranny for the most vulnerable."
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