Sunday, 10 May 2009

Right to die?

This week in Bournemouth almost 100 people attended a suicide workshop run by an Australian doctor called Philip Nitschke, which is really hard to spell.  Dr Nitschke is the founder of the right-to-die organisation, Exit and is famous for helping four people to die Northern Territory, Australia in 1996. He recently came to the UK to run a series of suicide workshops so that anyone who is particularly bored with life can go along and find out the most efficient way of ridding the world of their depressed existence. Actually the workshops are only open to the seriously ill or elderly, so the Emos will have to work it out for themselves, which is unfortunate because most of them lack the basic initiative to hurl themselves from a suitably high building.

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 Switzerland to commit suicide. Given this and the decision to allow Doctor Nitschke to run his suicide workshops, it seems apparent to me that people are warming to the idea that, just because you are unable to kill yourself, you should be forced to live a life of pain and suffering until you finally snuff it of natural causes.

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. 


  1. Liking the anti-government tone of the last paragraph :-D

    Also, do you think it would be wise to start a fb group against MPs? Replacing them withna driect democracy system

  2. direct democracy probably would not work in our country because we have so many people. to actually get anything done without spending all our lives arguing about it we kinda have to have representative democracy. If more power was given to local government then i dont see why direct democracy could not work, but i doubt the government is going to allow that to happen given how inefficient that would be.

  3. I don't see why we have to elect criminals to run our government.

    Did you hear about that MP who told the Commons a house was her second home, and told the Inland Revenue it was her primary house?

    That is fraud! You are a criminal! You are no better than a chav nicking a car! Just because a few misguided folk think that the fact that you help your local constituency, does not give you the right to break the law.

    You see, this is why I need a blog!