THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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A Right to Die? Or a right to be killed?

A Right to Die? The Tony Nicklinson case.

I have written twice before about my ethical problems with "assisted suicide." Of course I sympathise with such people as Tony Nicklinson. I would hate to be in his position and would probably feel the same way if I were. However, hard cases make bad law and assisted suicide advocates seem often to be salami-slicing their way toward euthanasia, which would lead to many undetectable murders as lazy carers, socialised medicine rationers or greedy heirs masked their actions.

Even legalising assisted suicide (i.e. allowing someone to be an accessory to someone killing themselves) would lead to many more murders masked as such. Surely, however, there is now a technological solution. Mr Nicklinson is communicating his desire to die by using a computer. If he can do that he could also use one to drive a device - say a motorised syringe - to kill himself. So he doesn't need the change to the law of murder his lawyers are hopelessly requesting. He only needs an amendment to the Suicide Act of 1961. The revised law could permit the setting up of such a device only when a judge has verified that the person requesting it is both of sound mind and free from duress.

Of course no doctor with a religious or other ethical objection should be required to act against his conscience, but there would be many still willing and able.

I still worry that people might feel pressured to take such action by the expense and inconvenience their condition causes their families, but the need for a court order would provide some protection. Otherwise, I see no ethical or practical objection. Do you?