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Death as a Lifestyle Choice
The front page of today's Times screams about a new opinion poll. Apparently there is now "[h]uge public support for change in law to allow the right to die":
Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of people want doctors to be allowed to help terminally ill patients to end their lives. Support is particularly strong among those aged 55 to 64.
Six out of ten people also want friends and relatives to be able to help their dying loved ones to commit suicide without fear of prosecution.
Ludwig Minelli, founder of Swiss death clinic Dignitas, must have €€€ signs in his eyes. Am I out of step, then, in my opposition to Dignitas and my suspicions about assisted suicide? Not necessarily. From The Times article:
The poll found only 13 per cent of the public supported a blanket right to assisted suicide regardless of the individual’s health. Eighty-five per cent said that it should only be legal “in specific circumstances”.
A spokesman for the Care not Killing Alliance dismissed the findings. “Knee-jerk approval of assisted suicide from the worried well is not surprising in this poll, carefully timed immediately to follow the media storm around recent high-profile celebrity suicides,” he said. “It needs to be seen within the context of the House of Lords’ recent rejection of [a legal change] and the continuing strong opposition to any change in the law from senior lawyers, leading doctors, the BMA and disabled people’s groups, all of whom have a good understanding of the dangers to public safety that would accompany any change.”
Indeed. Hard cases make bad law, and bad opinion polls, and the case of the frail Sir Edward Downes and his terminally ill wife is a hard case.
In Pajamas Media today, I develop some thoughts posted here on why assisted suicide pacts, in particular, should be opposed. Unlike John Derbyshire, I believe that this slope is slippery. Click on the syringe for more - it won't kill you, as it's only a picture:
I have probably done Dignitas to death, as it were, but one final thought on suicide pacts: what kind of man is selfish enough to want his healthy wife to die with him? If he had anything about him he would insist that she put that nonsense out of her head right away. John Diamond, the writer who died of cancer nearly ten years ago, wanted his wife Nigella Lawson to enjoy life to the full:
One of the mad emailers' obsessions is - I quote - who's going to be banging Nigella after I've stopped. It really doesn't worry me. As far as I'm concerned, as long as I'm slightly tepid in the grave I'd hope she'd get round to it as soon as possible - metaphorically and literally.
As indeed she did.