The UK’s absence of legal euthanasia, assisted death and assisted suicide forces people to travel to other nations for the right to die, some of these countries include Switzerland and Belgium.
Belgium was one of the first countries to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill minors, given that their parents have provided consent, in many other countries the patient must be aged 18 and over.
Many people are confused when it comes to the terms Euthanasia, assisted suicide and assisted death. These terms are often not used consistently. Euthanasia is an intervention undertaken with the intention of ending a life to relieve suffering, for example, a lethal injection administered by a doctor. Assisted suicide is an act that intentionally helps another person kill themselves, for example by providing them with the means to do so, most commonly by prescribing a lethal medication.
The quest to legalise assisted dying has been denied several times by a number of countries including Australia, but just three months ago on the 29th of November 2017, lower house MPs in Victoria Australia voted in favour of the bill that will allow people who are terminally ill and in intolerable pain to end their lives The debate which consisted of 100 hours of disagreements and amendments, as well as two all-night sittings led to the decision: patients will be able to request the assistance for their death from doctors. The law will be made legal In Victoria from 2019.
Despite legalisation, like other law, there are conditions, the patient must be at least 18, and have less than six months to live, additionally patients must have lived in Victoria for at least 12 years and must also be considered sane and of sound mind.
Fiona Patten, MP, told the Guardian: “It’s very clear the vast majority of Victorians are happy the parliament has done this work.” Although joyous celebrations continue in Australia, here in Britain many citizens are disappointed with the government’s decision to not legalise assisted death.
Terminally ill Noel Conway brought a judicial review which challenges the current law on assisted dying, Mr Conway was granted the permission to appeal his earlier rejection on the 18th of January 2018. In a recent BBC video, Mr Conway says “It’s my body, I have a right to die I have a right to determine how I should die and more importantly when I should die and I want to do so when I have a degree of dignity left”. But, when MP’S last voted a few years ago they rejected a change in the Law in a free vote in the Commons, 118 MPs were in favour and 330 against plans to legalise. Noel Conway is amongst the thousands of patients campaigning for the right to control their deaths.
The most recent survey of doctors in the UK was in 2007-08. The rate of euthanasia was reported to be 0.21% of all deaths, and a similar rate has been reported in France (in 2009), even though euthanasia remains illegal in both countries. Many people are aware that although assistance in death is illegal it STILL occurs, a social worker who preferred to remain anonymous said “Britain should quickly rethink their decisions of making this illegal because too many people are suffering and doctors are being placed under immense pressures.”
An interesting comment made by Rita Joseph on the subject – she says: “The terminally ill, although they are dying, are still alive. It is their live humanity, their living membership of the human family that entitles them to human rights. We are obliged to travel in human solidarity with them, to provide them with the best attainable palliative care, in their homes or hospices or intensive care units, to be attentive to their needs, to be with them to the moment of natural death. While every person has a right to refuse burdensome medical intervention intended to prolong life, no person has a right to demand of carers a medical intervention intended to kill”
Whether or not the law will become legal in a couple years time, the question that still remains is will doctors actually want to be partly responsible for the death or suicide of another person, if not what will happen to these medical professionals. Many people have already protested the law with the statement “don’t let doctors kill they’re meant to heal.”