Britain Activists Promote Assisted Suicide, Bash Disabled

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 11, 2011   |   5:42PM   |   London, England

Assisted suicide backers in England are pressing again for legalization of the practice, but they are going further by trashing disabled people in the process.

In the current British Medical Journal, Tony Delamothe writes a column titled “One and a Half Truths About Assisted Dying,” in which he disparages the disabled.

“Sixteen months ago I argued that the debate on assisted dying had been hijacked by disabled people who wanted to live and that it should be reclaimed for terminally ill people who wanted to die,” he says.

But American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, in a new blog post, calls him on the carpet.

“Thanks to the spread of suicide tourism, the UK is going through another in a series of pushes to legalize assisted suicide.  As with the last time, when a bill was introduced in the House of Lords, a commission is studying the issue.  And advocates are pretending that their goal is what it clearly is not,’ he writes.

Smith says the pro-assisted suicide activism in the United Kingdom “has explicitly not been limited to the terminally ill” and writes the example of the bill in the Scottish Parliament to legalize the practice, saying MSP Margo MacDonald is referenced by Delamothe.

“Yet, it specifically would have permitted assisted suicide for people with non terminal disabilities,” he notes.

Other assisted suicide advocates who are not terminally ill has pressured for legalization as well, Smith indicates.

Debby Purdy, who won a ruling in the Law Lords requiring the public prosecutor to say when assisted suicide would be prosecuted–leading to a quasi decriminalization–is not dying,” he said. “She has MS and wants her husband to be allowed to help kill her when she has decided she has had enough of disability.”

“The most notorious cases of suicide tourism, such as Daniel James, a young man taken to Switzerland by has parents after a sports injury left him totally paralyzed, involved people with disabilities, not the terminally ill,” he continued. “And even those bills that did so limit the license proposed to the dying, were never intended remain so restricted. Rather, the dying were the foot in the door.”

Smith says Delamothe is upset “because disability rights campaigners are the single most effective organized opponents of assisted suicide–in the UK and in the USA.”

“But they are right and he is wrong.  Assisted suicide/euthanasia is not about terminal illnesses.  It never has been,” Smith concludes, adding, ” the philosophy that underlies the movement–radical individualism and that killing is a proper means of ending human suffering–make it impossible to limit euthanasia to the dying and remain consistent to values.”

“The dying are just used as the justification for what is already a far broader and more radical goal of eventually legalizing Kevorkianism that would permit virtual death on demand to any adult with more than a transitory desire to die,” he writes.