This week in
Inevitably the arrival of the doctor with the hard-to-spell name has caused some controversy; he was initially barred from entering the country under the Immigration and Asylum Act until the blundering morons at the Home Office realised that he was neither an immigrant, nor seeking asylum, nor did he pose a serious through to our safety, and allowed him entry into the country. Nonetheless fears still remain over the effect he may have on people who attend his workshops; someone might end up committing suicide, which is exactly the point of the exercise. I guess people like Alex Russell, the vicar of Pennington and chaplain of Oak Haven Hospice in Lymington, Hampshire forgot that the workshops are voluntary, so they’re only going to effect people who would consider suicide anyway and want to know the best way to do it. (By the way Alex Russell, the vicar of Pennington and chaplain of Oak Haven Hospice in Lymington, Hampshire is quoted on the BBC website and I couldn’t be arsed to find someone more noteworthy to quote at you.)
It’s hardly surprising that Doctor Nitschke has caused such controversy given people’s misgivings about assisted suicide. It seems that, although killing yourself is just rather sad, helping someone else kill themselves is some strangely sadistic act of murder. Apparently someone who is able to kill himself has more of a right to die that someone who can’t, simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t need any help. It seems very odd to me that people do not accept that people with a serious and extremely painful illness cannot have any help in ending their lives when they want to, rather than waiting for death to slowly and painfully arrive. Fortunately we seem to be in the middle of a u-turn in public opinion; a few months ago the parents of a man were acquitted of assisted suicide after taking their son, who had been crippled in a rugby accident and was paralyzed from the neck downwards, to Dignitas in
It is absurd to me that the law essentially forces people to continue living when they just don’t want to, simply because they are unable to kill themselves. The law is there solely to protect our basic human rights, it is not there to dictate what we can and cannot do with our lives. While some restrictions must be placed on our action when they infringe upon other’s rights, what we do with out private lives is not the prerogative of some busy-body government official. Euthanasia is usually committed with the consent of the person who is being killed; they have chosen to end their lives, they just need help doing it. By illegalising Euthanasia the government is essentially infringing on our basic human right to choose; in this case to choose when to die.
It is the case with far too many of our laws that they try to dictate to us what we can and cannot do in our private lives. The role of law is not to set a moral code of society; it is to allow all members of society to live by their own moral code. This necessarily means that the government must protect each individual’s right to live as they will by stopping people from impinging on this right, but this is the extent to which the government should be able to dictate our behaviour. It should not be able to stop people from committing suicide. It should not be able to stop people from helping loved ones to die in dignity. It should not be able to stop people from giving workshops on how to kill oneself and it should not stop people from attending them.