Assisted Dying Bill to be put Before Parliament……

17 May

Lord Falconer who served as Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair and chaired the Commission on Assisted Dying proposed bill will again go before Parliament.  Lord Falconer, who tried to and failed to change the law in 2009, believes current legislation is in urgent need of an update. Three quarters of adults in England and Wales support the proposals in the bill, a YouGov poll for Dignity in Dying found earlier this week.

Although Lord Falconer’s attempts to change the current outdated 1961 Suicide Act are admirable, the amendments would not help people like Paul Lamb and the late Tony Nicklinson because the patient would not only need a prognosis that their life expectancy was less than 6 months but then require them to perform the action leading to their death unassisted.  In cases where the patient was physically incapacitated this would not be possible.

As is usual whenever the subject of self determination is discussed groups opposed are the first in the queue to make their opposition known.  One is forced to enquire as to the religious motivation of these people, most of whom are not suffering from a life altering, debilitating and painful condition, or care for someone who does.  Their opinions may be different if they were, God permitting.

Living in the 21st century we have little autonomy.  We are told where we can go, when we can go there and what documentation we will need.  The ‘free’ society in which we live holds details on almost every aspect of our lives and, as the declaration on the endless forms we are obliged to complete informs us, legal action can be taken against us for failure to give accurate information.  The only aspect of our lives which remains under our direct control is the choice to live or die albeit with many obstacles placed in the way and, for those unfortunate enough to have had a physical barrier placed in their way; even that choice is severely restricted.

In a society which no longer needs to invoke divine explanations for apparently mystical events is it not time to put death into context.  Before the evolutionary process which brought about your existence did you spend all of pre-existence contemplating the brief period of consciousness you were about to experience?  In the same way, do you believe you will spend an equal amount of time contemplating your non-existence once it ends?  The time you spend as a sentient being, hard though it is for some people to accept is the total of your conscious experience.

Ironically, in our politically correct society there are legally binding provisions to provide access to public buildings and adaptations to the workplace to accommodate people with disabilities, provisions which do not apply to self determination.

For some people who are unfortunate enough to have been deprived of the fullness of experience enjoyed by the rest of us, returning to the before or progressing to the after is for them a desire that you, I or any other well meaning person is not at liberty to dictate.  Life belongs to you, and you alone.  Should you not wish to take part that is ultimately your decision and should be the first of your rights as a Human Being……

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