Download Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against by Kevin Yuill (auth.) PDF

By Kevin Yuill (auth.)

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Additional resources for Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization

Sample text

The former term recognizes that the real issue at the heart of the discussion is suicide. Present opinion In general, the public supports legalizing assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness but for no one else. A Populus poll for The Times in July 2009 found that 74 per cent of those in the UK surveyed thought that the law should be changed to allow doctor-assisted suicide in ‘cases where an individual is of sound mind and has made unambiguously clear that they want to die and want or need help to do so’; 60 per cent supported the legalization of non-doctor (friends, relatives)-assisted suicide.

5 Such slippery terms mirror the slipperiness of the debate. It is only relatively recently that campaigners have called for voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide only and not euthanasia in general. After all, it makes sense, if the aim is to alleviate suffering, to extend the power to end suffering not just to the individual involved but to doctors and, perhaps, to those nearest and dearest to the patient. The patient may not, in some instances, be able to act in his best interests. Perhaps the patient made clear her wishes but lacks the function to give final assent to the act.

We, as a society, currently tolerate actions by doctors in situations where most people are likely to agree that continued biological existence is not desirable. That is not to say that the law should be changed in order to allow euthanasia – each situation can only be judged Defining the Terms 29 individually and quality of life cannot be judged according to generic criteria. It is simply to recognize that in situations such as that of Terri Schiavo,35 causing death, either passively or actively, might be the best course of action and that doctors are usually in the best position to judge.

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