Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UK prime minister opposes assisted suicide.

Hon. Gordon Brown
In a radio interview Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister stated his complete opposition to assisted suicide.

According to the Scotman newspaper, Brown stated his total opposition to relaxing the ban on assisting a person to commit suicide, suggesting such a change could force vulnerable people to end their lives early if they feared they would become a burden.

Brown stated:
"Well, I'm totally against laws on that. I think this debate about assisted suicide, it's not really for us to create any legislation that would put pressure on people to feel that they had to offer themselves because they were causing trouble to a relative. So I think we have got to make it absolutely clear that the importance of human life is recognised."
Gordon Brown is not a right wing Christian or a political conservative. Brown proves again that opposition to assisted suicide is not based on religious or political motivations but rather a concern about the way we treat people at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Do we believe in Caring or Killing?

Brown's concerns are well-founded. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been practised for more than 30 years, it has now become acceptable to kill newborn infants with disabilities such as spina bifida.

A study done in the Netherlands and published in 2005 (vanderlee et al) found that people who were suffering from depression were 44% more likely to request and received euthanasia than people who were not showing signs of depression.

The leaders of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies expressed at their recent International conference in Paris that their new focus will be to promote euthanasia for people who are "Tired of Living". There isn't a big difference between someone being killed because they have expressed that they are Tired of Living and another person who feels they have a "Duty to Die" because of the social and family pressure that are experiencing as their personal needs increase.

The fact is that laws that prevent euthanasia and assisted suicide are needed to protect people at the most vulnerable time of their life from others and from a society that has devalued the lives of people who appear to lack a "quality of life" that is deemed acceptable by the social elites.

Link to Wesley Smith's commentary:

Link to the article in the Scotsman:


Anonymous said...

You write: "There isn't a big difference between someone being killed because they have expressed that they are Tired of Living and another person who feels they have a 'Duty to Die' because of the social and family pressure that are experiencing as their personal needs increase." But of course there IS a big difference. What you are doing is equating active euthanasia against one's will ---murder --- with assisted suicide. It is not only an inaccurate comparison, but makes a case against personal autonomy. If a person wants to "end it all" for whatever reason, why should it be any concern of yours? If they are determined to do it they'll make the attempt anyway, and possibly botch it; so why not simply give them some assistance. Just because you might not elect that option yourself seems a poor reason to deny it to others.

Alex Schadenberg said...

I have a policy of not publishing comments from an anonymous source but this comment does hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous states that my arguement makes a case against personal autonomy, in fact this arguement recognizes that personal autonomy is a false distinction when refering to assisted suicide or euthanasia.

In fact personal autonomy and assisted suicide have little to do with each other because assisted suicide or euthanasia require the direct involvement of another person. In other words, autonomous acts by their very definition autonomous and not requiring the direct involvement of another person.

Anonymous is defending his/her support for assisted suicide/ euthanasia with arguements that support suicide. But suicide is not the topic we are discussing.

Euthanasia and Assisted suicide are not acts of autonomy but rather giving another person the right and sometimes the obligation, to be directly involved with taking another persons life.

When debating the ethics of the act, we are simply debating when it is OK to kill others and when it is not.

Autonomy is in fact a lie.

HistoryWriter said...

Sorry, but I didn't intentionally post that comment anonymously. My identification appears above. That said, your objection is illogical. The fact that I ask my doctor to give me a pill that I can take when and if I feel like doing so is not the same as the doctor's taking my life, since I would be the one making the decision to act. By your logic the sale of a handgun would be unethical because the gun dealer would be complicit if I used his product to blow my brains out. Do you not agree?
It is never OK to kill another person. A doctor providing me with the means to kill myself, at my request, on the other hand, does not in any sense equate to his killing me. I fail to see how anyone can make that stretch of logic.

Alex Schadenberg said...

You cannot separate euthanasia - the intentional action or omission to kill, from assisted suicide which is to knowingly provide the means for a person to kill themselves.

Both acts require the direct involvement of another person to cause death. Both acts result in the same end.

When refering to issues related to choice and autonomy, autonomy is a real problem here.

The death promoters like to sell this to the public as choice or autonomy but in reality it is legally sanctioning one person to be directly involved in taking another person's life.

As for choice in general, the problem will always remain, who is actually making the choice. You can dress it up all you want, but there is no safeguard that will ever protect the lives of vulnerable people who are being coerced into death or subtly pressured.

You can never divorce the issue of choice from the social reality that others influence our choices and sometimes actually dictate our choices.

HistoryWriter said...

I'm afraid that by your logic there is no distinction between the man who commits murder and the executioner who injects him with a lethal chemical. In both cases direct action is required, and the end result is the same regardless of the motivation. Would I be correct to posit that you are opposed to capital punishment?

Alex Schadenberg said...

Capital Punishment may be deemed necessary by a nation for the purpose of protecting its citizens against a known agressor when there is no other way to stop that agressor.

Otherwise I would suggest that Capital Punishment is wrong.

Alex Schadenberg said...

The issue of capital punishment is different that the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

With capital punishment the intention is to protect a nation from a known aggressor and to punish a person for a captital crime.

With euthanasia and assisted suicide the intention is to cause the death of a person to relieve that persons suffering.

The problem remains, who has the right to cause the death of the other, and how can that ever be controlled?

Since no one should have the right to intentionally cause the death of another and because suffering can be controlled by other, non lethal means, therefore it should never be legal.

HistoryWriter said...

Well, at least you're consistent.