Assisted Dying – are the claimed safeguards sufficient?

The campaign to legalise assisted dying continues apace, with a new Bill to change the law recently introduced into the House of Lords where it will shortly be debated.

The Assisted Dying Bill has been introduced by Baroness Meacher who will no doubt argue that if enacted it would permit the introduction of assisted dying for those who want it, but would have sufficient safeguards to protect the vulnerable from pressures to die.

Whitehouse Communications Chair and Director of Health and Social Care Policy, Chris Whitehouse, is a Member of the Institute of Medical Ethics, was recently awarded an MA in Contemporary Ethics by Heythrop College of the University of London, and was made a Knight Commander of Saint Gregory by Pope Francis for his services to the promotion of ethics in public policy.

As part of his MA course, Chris wrote an essay weighing the protections afforded by the then version of the proposed Assisted Dying No.2 Bill. He concluded in his essay that the protections were illusory and inadequate, writing that:

“Having considered in detail the fifteen safeguards for patients claimed by its supporters to be afforded by the Bill, the conclusion can only be that they are mainly illusory in practice, open to abuse and likely to lead to a cultural shift in which a right to die becomes a duty to die. Society should avoid that fundamental change in approach. The protections afforded by the Bill are insufficient to make it anything like the basis of a just law.”

Chris was recently appointed an Associate Lecturer at the Institute of Theology and the Liberal Arts at Saint Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he lectures on charities and campaigns. He is a Trustee of the Institute of Medical Ethics.

The full text of Chris’s essay is here.

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