4 Feb 2010

Assisted suicide – the debate opens

Over the past several years here in England, there has been a shift in the attitude of assisted suicide.

Assisting someone to commit suicide in the UK is illegal and carry a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

However, more than 100 Britons with terminal or incurable illnesses have gone to the Swiss centre Dignitas to die and none of the relatives and friends involved in the cases has been prosecuted.

The problem with the law as seen by terminally ill patients desirous of ending their lives, is that the law is not clear under what circumstances their relatives or assistants would be prosecuted.

Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer from Bradford wants to know under what circumstances her husband would be prosecuted if he helped her travel abroad to die. In July last year, the Law Lords ruled she had a right to know.

Now, I have no problem with suicide, or assisted suicide. How a person chooses to live their life, or end it, is – in my humble view – his or her choice. No so the religious zealots. They want to decide the fates of everyone, even those outside their faith.

I’d rather die with some dignity than wallow in my own shit for someone to be cleaning up after me… but that’s besides the point.

The debate is heating up here in England, and it looks likely that there is some way to go still before anything final is said and done.