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Assisted suicide legalized in the UK

Although I haven't much to say about it beyond the obvious, "How terrible," I do not want to let go by unmentioned the most recent, broadscale, disturbing development on life issues in the United Kingdom. There are so many bad things that come out of the United Kingdom, so many news stories that defy satire, on almost a daily basis, that I really cannot keep up. I have several of them in the back of my head that I've meant to blog about, but finally one gets exhausted and falls behind.

This should not be allowed to pass without comment in this way, because it is an actual policy change. The UK has fairly broadly legalized assisted suicide. Wesley J. Smith has details here. The mechanism by which this has happened is legally peculiar, particularly to an American mind. The House of Lords, which is the UK's Supreme Court, ruled that someone who was bringing a case had a right to know whether her husband would be prosecuted for assisting her suicide; therefore, they ordered the public prosecutor to issue "guidelines" on when the law in place against assisting suicide would be enforced. The prosecutor, rather than just saying, "Heck, yes, I'll prosecute her husband and anyone else who breaks the law and assists a suicide" has published "guidelines" to warm the Hemlock Society's heart--in other words, has functionally decriminalized assisted suicide without, for what this is worth, the involvement of the legislative branch.

As Smith points out, the guidelines clearly treat some lives as more worth protecting than others. The guidelines declare that it is not "in the public interest" to punish some suicide assistances. If a victim was healthy or under 18, it is in the public interest. If, on the other hand, the victim was at least 18 and had a terminal illness, a severe and incurable physical disability, or a severe degenerative physical condition, from which there was no possibility of recovery (plus asking to die, asking for the suspect's help to die, and so forth), it is not in the public interest to punish the person who killed him ostensibly at his own request.

This is very bad indeed.

Update: Here is a link to the new guidelines. Readers can decide for themselves whether the religious leaders linked by commentator Keith below should be, as they appear to be, relieved or upset, given that they claim to be opposed to suicide.

Comments (6)

The basis for these new prosecutorial guidelines is a request made by a 46 year old woman with multiple sclerosis; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debbie_Purdy

My mother was diagnosed with MS when she was 40, and carried her cross for 38 years years, her family is damn grateful she did, and for the great memories and witness she provided.

What kind of people are we becoming when we offer those bound to a wheel-chair death, rather than love?

A collection of reactions from Church of Eng & RCC sources:

I can't help but wonder if writing this article was as painful as reading it. For what it's worth, thanks for suppressing the gag reflex long enough to punch it out.

Wow. Just read those reactions from the C of E. What a disappointment. It's like they can't read what the guidelines actually are and come out and admit that the prosecutor has legalized assisted suicide! Somebody's deceiving somebody. I gather the prosecutor is trying to spin this as "no change." What an insult to the intelligence of the English people!

Lauran, it was pretty painful to write, but I wrote it fast, like taking a nasty pill. It's a lot more painful for me to see Christian leaders making statements that this isn't really what it obviously is. That's really painful.

Maybe the real pain isn't caused so much by listening to Christian leaders trying to lull us into murdering our own family and friends, but by their belief that they're 'Christian' while doing it.

Having convinced the less fortunate of the world that killing who we can't see is now acceptable, the same evil is now working diligently to convince us to murder those we see clearly. And the victims of this new killing spree are, once again, the least of our brethren.

Thank you again, and if this helps--I really do feel your pain.

My favorite line from the CofE: "There would be problems ensuring that any law permitting assisted suicide would be sufficiently safeguarded against abuse."

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