A conscience vote in the UK on euthanasia

March 11th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

The legislation of assisted suicide has moved a significant step closer after the Government made clear that it would not stand in the way of a change in the law.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and peers – including Coalition ministers – will be given a free vote on a Bill that would enable doctors to help terminally ill patients to die, The Telegraph can disclose.

That will be a fascinating vote. There will be MPs in all parties both for and against.

Under the 1961 Suicide Act, it remains a criminal offence carrying up to 14 years in jail to help someone to take their own life.

Four years ago, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued guidelines that made clear that anyone who assisted a loved one to die while “acting out of compassion” was unlikely to be charged. Since then, around 90 such cases have been examined and no one prosecuted.

So there is a de facto legalisation. It is appropriate the law reflect the reality.

A Bill drawn up by Lord Falconer, a former Labour lord chancellor, to legalise “assisted dying” – allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to terminally-ill patients – is before the House of Lords. Peers are expected to vote on the plans in the next four months.

If the Bill is supported there, it will then pass to the Commons where some MPs say they have detected growing support for the move – influenced by opinion polls suggesting that up to three quarters of the public would support a change in the law.

A 2010 poll found 82% in favour and just 13% opposed.

Observers in Parliament estimate that just over a third of MPs would back a change in the law, a smaller group is strongly opposed, and up to 40 per cent are undecided.

I think a change to allow for terminally ill people in pain would gain the support of most MPs in the NZ Parliament.

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50 Responses to “A conscience vote in the UK on euthanasia”

  1. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    In the UK the Director of Public Prosecutions refused to take a stance on this when asked, and a terminally ill person took the Director to court and the court ordered that the Director outline his stance. I am not sure ‘law’ should have been made in this way. The court should have actually decided the matter. The issue was whether a minder who would have taken the (by then) wheelchair bound person to Switzerland would be charged if they went. If the answer was ‘yes’ the person concerned would have gone to Switzerland while still capable of traveling alone.

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  2. iMP (2,333 comments) says:

    I’m with Malcolm Muggeridge on this one…

    The Great Liberal Death Wish
    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/MuggeridgeLiberal.php

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  3. eszett (2,365 comments) says:

    No surprises there, iMP.
    The usual nonsense mixed with hyperbole galore.

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  4. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    More Godless Marxism from the so called “center right”.

    Poor little lambs so easily lead astray and to the slaughter board

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  5. kowtow (7,925 comments) says:

    The excellent Norman Tebbit on the subject.

    There really are so few true conservatives left.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/normantebbit/100263018/first-abortion-now-suicide-were-on-a-slippery-slope/

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  6. Urban_Redneck (61 comments) says:

    To an enlightened 21st century progressive/liberal, euthanasia is the embodiment of civilization – especially since they never for a single second ever consider that one day they may be lying on the slab wondering if someone is going to pull the plug on them.

    The insanity in Belgium recently, where child euthanasia is to be legalized despite an open letter from 160 Belgian pediatricians arguing against the law, claiming there is no urgent need for it and that modern medicine is capable of soothing the pain of even the sickest children. What do the pediatricians know ? They’re just the ones who are probably expected to have to actually DO the killing.

    Abortion, sodomy, euthanasia and drugs. Liberalism is a death cult.

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  7. JMS (314 comments) says:

    There really are so few true conservatives left.

    Good.

    Conservatives are meddling nanny-state busybodies.

    Almost as bad as socialists.

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  8. Huevon (211 comments) says:

    Try not to get swept away by the blood-dimmed tide!

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  9. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    Conservatives are meddling nanny-state busybodies

    LOL how easily you are fooled

    Truthfully ask yourself if euthanasia is legalized will the State get bigger or smaller?

    And if you think about it for a nano second the answer is bigger – there will be more regulations to be monitored and more forms to be rubber stamped.

    So it goes

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  10. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I believe we will come to regret permitting state approval of suicide. Hard cases make for bad law.

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  11. JMS (314 comments) says:

    Truthfully ask yourself if euthanasia is legalized will the State get bigger or smaller?

    It would get smaller:

    the huge cost of caring for people, who need around the clock care even though they don’t want to live anymore.

    the police would only be able to prosecute if there is insufficient evidence the person wanted to die.

    On the other hand if it is handled in the ridiculously complicated way it is in some countries that allow euthanasia, then yes the state would get bigger.

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  12. JMS (314 comments) says:

    I believe we will come to regret permitting state approval of suicide. Hard cases make for bad law.

    It’s none of the state’s business what people choose to do with their own lives.

    Bad law makes hard cases.

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  13. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    If you don’t like the state involved Andrei why do you insist assisted suicide remains illegal? It is to satisfy conservatives like you that regulation will be created. My life . My right to take. Get your self-important, superstition driven crap out of it

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  14. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I suspect if you submitted a bill legalising assisting a person to commit suicide at any age for any reason it would be soundly rejected. But what’s the limiting principle that says that’s wrong if you grant the initial premise that it’s OK in some circumstances?

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  15. JMS (314 comments) says:

    I suspect if you submitted a bill legalising assisting a person to commit suicide at any age for any reason it would be soundly rejected. But what’s the limiting principle that says that’s wrong if you grant the initial premise that it’s OK in some circumstances?

    The limiting principle on age is the same reason under 18s can’t vote. If the person expressing a wish to die was under 18 years old and wanted to be euthanised, parental consent would be needed.

    As to the reason for the wish to die, that is none of the state’s business.

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  16. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Right, so you are arguing for a much stricter euthanasia regime than has eventuated in other countries. How do we prevent that standard from being eroded?

    Accepting that there might be such a way, can I take it that you would grant a euthanasia request to someone on the grounds they are depressed?

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  17. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    In the real world, which we conservatives inhabit, people’s journey from this world to the next is eased every day by palliative care and nobody questions too deeply whether the palliative care perhaps hastens the transition.

    Also in this same real world every day medical people, the dying and their families decide that further treatment, which if given might delay the inevitable, be withheld.

    Nobody bats an eyelid about this which is as it should be – Doctors, patients and their families make decisions which are in the best interests of the patient.

    Now you big Government ninnies want to draft a whole bunch of legislation around this area – even though nothing is broken here as far as I can see – just so people can be put down like an old pet dog?

    Realistically

    (1) people will be pressured into being “euthanized” before their time for other peoples convenience

    (2) People if fits of despair will take this option when there is still plenty of time and things they might enjoy still to come

    (3) There will be a whole raft of consultants and bureaucrats needed to “administer” and sign off the processes.

    It is a very dumb thing to get into

    It is also morally WRONG!!!

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  18. JMS (314 comments) says:

    Cato,

    I’m arguing for a less restrictive regime than in other countries as far as over 18s are concerned.

    I must admit I haven’t given as much thought to the under 18s issue.

    I don’t think euthanasia requests should need to be granted. I think voluntary euthanasia should not be prosecuted.

    For example: if a 19 year old suffering from depression clearly asks for and is given a deadly poison, I see no reason for any prosecutions.

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  19. Ryan Sproull (7,059 comments) says:

    Abortion, sodomy, euthanasia and drugs. Liberalism is a death cult.

    So don’t be a liberal. Don’t have abortions. Don’t have anal sex. Don’t request assisted suicide. Don’t drink or do other drugs.

    That’s the cool thing about liberalism – you’re free to be conservative.

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  20. berend (1,673 comments) says:

    Don’t forget that as with abortion, there will have to be killers. People paid with your taxes to kill. All feeling OK with that?

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  21. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    In the real world medical professionals and care gives commit the crime of assisting suicide daily. A conservative cry to reality ignors that knowingly whithhoding treatment is also asisting sucide . illegal . Arse of a law taking away my right to decide my own fate.

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  22. JMS (314 comments) says:

    (1) people will be pressured into being “euthanized” before their time for other peoples convenience

    (2) People if fits of despair will take this option when there is still plenty of time and things they might enjoy still to come

    Yes that may happen. But I don’t see why people who genuinely want to die should be denied that right just to spare others
    from a moral dilemma.

    (3) There will be a whole raft of consultants and bureaucrats needed to “administer” and sign off the processes.

    As I wrote earlier, that can easily be avoided.

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  23. Nigel Kearney (915 comments) says:

    Do people really think the government should establish a process for legally killing someone that is simpler than the process for sacking an incompetent employee? Because if the process is more complicated I guarantee doctors will not follow it and will instead keep doing what they do now.

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  24. Gulag1917 (795 comments) says:

    Euthanasia; look out if you are wealthy.

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  25. JMS (314 comments) says:

    Don’t forget that as with abortion, there will have to be killers. People paid with your taxes to kill. All feeling OK with that?

    No reason why the state should be involved in the euthanasia process.

    I’m pro-choice, but unlike the socialist pro-choicers, it believe it should be up to the private sector and/or charities to carry out abortions.

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  26. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    The UK legislation proposed specifies the terminally ill.

    It’s little different to this.

    A controversial national health programme criticised as “euthanasia in disguise” is being embraced by health boards.

    And for people like Jean Whitteker, 91, it is a blessing.

    Advance care planning (ACP) is a new concept in New Zealand that grants patients the right to plan their death care, including choosing to decline lifesaving treatment in order to die naturally.

    Primary health director of nursing Vicky Noble said Capital & Coast DHB was working closely with the national ACP Co-operative and looking at different approaches to ACP and how it could be set up throughout the DHB’s healthcare system.

    Hutt Valley DHB and Wairarapa DHB spokeswoman Jill Stringer said neither board had formal ACP systems in place but the issue was “something which is openly discussed at clinical meetings – it’s a thing whose time has come”.

    For Mrs Whitteker it is a blessing.

    A plan had given her confirmation that she would “die with dignity – my way”, she said.

    Knowing doctors will be legally bound to respect her wishes and not enforce unwanted treatments to prolong her life was a huge comfort to the widow.

    She watched her mother slowly die from cancer and her late husband suffered a debilitating stroke and “lived a lot longer then he wanted to”.

    “I can’t see the point of being kept alive just to die at some time in the short distance. I would just love to not wake up one morning and that would be it,” she said.

    Mrs Whitteker was one of the first Cantabrians to create an ACP.

    Those involved with rolling out ACP have been tasked with first educating clinicians on how to hold sensitive conversations about the “socially taboo” subject of end of life care, CDHB clinical director of palliative care Dr Kate Grundy said.

    Through ACP, patients talk with health professionals and their families about how they want to die, knowing they will likely lose the capacity to make their own decisions as they near death.

    In a tick-the-box application form, patients outline their values and beliefs, choose where they want to be when the time comes, if they want family members around and whether they want feeding or breathing tubes in their final days.

    Patients can choose to refuse all medical treatment which would lead to their death and this controversial measure has led to an “ignorant belief this is a kind of euthanasia in disguise”, Dr Grundy said.

    This was a “complete misconception” – patients could not write on their plan that they wanted to die, ACP was merely giving patients a voice about their own health care at a time when they had lost their own, she said.

    Mrs Whitteker suffered a stroke last year and her quality of life is not what it used to be, but with an ACP in place she no longer fears death.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/9777926/New-plan-for-last-days-of-life

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  27. kowtow (7,925 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproul says you’re free to be a conservative ,that’s right but the problem with all the items listed is the progressives insist these are rights that taxpayers must fund.

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  28. Ryan Sproull (7,059 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproul says you’re free to be a conservative ,that’s right but the problem with all the items listed is the progressives insist these are rights that taxpayers must fund.

    That’s more about socialised healthcare than about liberalism, kowtow, for euthanasia and abortion.

    Taxpayers aren’t paying anyone to have anal sex, to my knowledge. Nor are taxpayers buying people recreational drugs.

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  29. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    Where euthanasia is limited to the terminally ill, the term euthanasia is a little misleading.

    It is simply an abrupt termination of palliative care – to decide when death occurs as part of that process. This can mean families can gather before the death etc.

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  30. kowtow (7,925 comments) says:

    Taxpayers are paying for society to be turned on it’s head.

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  31. nasska (10,896 comments) says:

    Andrei

    ….”In the real world, which we conservatives inhabit, people’s journey from this world to the next is eased every day by palliative care and nobody questions too deeply whether the palliative care perhaps hastens the transition.”….

    So, nudge-nudge, wink-wink & up the morphine dose is okay but get the same action sanctioned by parliament so no medical practitioner doing so can be charged with taking a life isn’t?

    ….”It is also morally WRONG!!!”….

    Since when do you conservatives & Godfreaks have the right to dictate my end according to the wishes of your imaginary friend?

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  32. berend (1,673 comments) says:

    SPC: This can mean families can gather before the death etc.

    That’s an argument if I ever heard one. Obviously with all our busy agenda’s attending mum’s funeral could be a bit of an issue. So we’ll use a piece of software to schedule a free slot that suits everyone, fly up, kill mum, and go home.

    The stench of liberty is overwhelming.

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  33. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    berend, and you prefer – after a long illness the end came suddenly and their parent/grandparent died alone. And not all of the family was able to gather for the funeral. This being traditional …

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  34. Nukuleka (266 comments) says:

    And then it will be giving children the ‘right’ to choose suicide. No matter what ‘guidelines’ and ‘protections’ are put in place there will be wholesale abuse and soon the pressure will be on all the grannies and granddads in the rest homes to opt for euthanasia as they will be seen, and see themselves, as a burden on their families and society. THE THIN END OF THE WEDGE.

    DPF advocates a culture of death.

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  35. Andrei (2,532 comments) says:

    Since when do you conservatives & Godfreaks have the right to dictate my end according to the wishes of your imaginary friend?

    Feel free to commit suicide any time you like Nasska, I’m not going to stop you – just don’t drag anybody else into your scheme particularly not me through getting the Government involved.

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  36. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    Death market rules, death comes when the unfettered hand of the market decides, no socialist intervention by legislation enabling human free will to be exercised.

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  37. nasska (10,896 comments) says:

    I’m relieved that you wouldn’t oppose my exit Andrei but suppose that my descent into pain & immobility occurs a little too suddenly for me to do the job myself.

    Why should I have to stick around living a life I neither want nor have the ability to terminate myself just so your Skypixie remains appeased?

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  38. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    Don’t fret nasska. I’ll bring my outsize pliers over and put a docking ring round your neck.

    What more can a man do than take pity on a chap from Ekatahuna! :)

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  39. nasska (10,896 comments) says:

    Thanks JB….we knew we could count on you. :)

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  40. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    The Royal we eh?….. Are “we” regarded as royalty in Ekatahuna nasska? :)

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  41. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    Evening minus!

    You’re a lot like rust and cancer! :)

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  42. nasska (10,896 comments) says:

    No….we as in a group booking JB. There’s enough of us broken down old cockies around here getting ready to fall off the perch to make your trip over the Hill sometime worthwhile. :)

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  43. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    Anyway. looks like another boring night here, time I popped over to see what the Hun is up to! :)

    Night y’all!

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  44. Harriet (4,614 comments) says:

    “…..Why should I have to stick around living a life I neither want nor have the ability to terminate myself just so your Skypixie remains appeased?…”

    Nasska……you know that God is not the only concern here. People are! :cool:

    The NZ Govt and it’s Health dept has never been exceptional when it comes to life and death matters. Look at the roads, drug related deaths, violent death of women and children,……….and you think they’ve got euthanasia covered? LOL.

    Old people -one way or the other- may ‘feel’ that they should seek euthanasia in the belief that it is less demanding on their spouse/children, less costly on the public, less costly to family, the ‘right’ thing to do, taking away doctors ‘valuable’ time ect ect.

    And all because they are simply ‘somewhere near death’ – and in a large amount of cases ‘unexpectedly somewhere near death and in pain’.

    Then we have health dept managers who organize the geriatric ward staff roster – the less staff the less nursing, the less nursing the less care, the less care the more distraught the patient, the feeling of worthlessness starts in……….

    It is impossable for the NZ government to put in place safe guards that limit an ‘unwanted process towards euthanasia’.

    The truth is that better aged & pallitive care is the only real safeguard from that happening. Thank God that’s privatised Nasska!

    “No no, there’s no slippery slope!” :cool:

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  45. BlairM (2,305 comments) says:

    It seems basic logic to me that if you are not prepared to kill yourself without help, then you are not genuinely resolved to kill yourself at all. In which case, nobody should be allowed to kill you. You want the luxury of telling someone to kill you, then not being responsible for your own death. It’s moral cowardice.

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  46. ChardonnayGuy (1,183 comments) says:

    This is all academic. Unless the British Medical Association changes its collective professional opinion on the matter, it will be intensively lobbying against any such legislative change, and it is their credibility and authority as a respected professional group that may end up swaying many MPs on either side of the house. In Oregon, Washington state, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Vermont, the resident state or national medical associations either declared neutrality or else established regulatory guidelines to deal with the practise, which facilitated legislative reform in that context. An excellent book on the Dutch experience is

    Stuart Younger and Gerrit Kinsma (eds) Physician-assisted death in perspective: Assessing the Dutch experience: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2012

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  47. gump (1,547 comments) says:

    I’d politely suggest that any person who believes palliative medicine is capable of suppressing the pain and suffering in all cases is deluded.

    Some people are being made to die in agony and/or without dignity. Prolonging their suffering – against their wishes – is evil and wrong.

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  48. cha (3,852 comments) says:

    For those who think there’s a good way to go here’s a pdf of the book How we Die by the late Dr Sherwin Nuland. It ain’t pretty folks.

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  49. gump (1,547 comments) says:

    @BlairM

    “It seems basic logic to me that if you are not prepared to kill yourself without help, then you are not genuinely resolved to kill yourself at all”

    ———————

    And if you’re confined to a physically crippled or paralysed body – what then?

    The people who request medically assisted euthanasia are often physically incapable of ending their own lives due to an advanced state of disability or disease. Calling their situation “moral cowardice” is insulting.

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  50. grumpyoldhori (2,416 comments) says:

    What gets me is the way bible bashers believe those who do not believe in any sky fairy should suffer.
    I have no problem in god botherers suffering, got cancer of the bones, good stuff, no pain relief for you god botherers , you can die screaming in agony.

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