Legalizing Assisted Suicide Would Expose Elderly to Abuse

Bioethics   |   John Smeaton   |   Feb 2, 2011   |   2:50PM   |   London, England

In the last 48 hours there have been two reports of the shocking level of abuse of vulnerable people in Britain today:

Researchers from the University of Manchester’s center for social ethics and policy found that at least 400, and maybe up to 1,200, more people died than would have been expected at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, according to investigations in 2009 and 2010. The research highlighted the fact that patients were abandoned without food, drink or medication.

The Daily Mail found that between 2005 and 2009 in England and Wales, 667 care home residents died of dehydration and 157 died of malnutrition.

I am sure that an anti-life mentality has contributed to the death-toll. The British government, parliament, courts and medical establishment have all undermined protection for the sick, elderly and disabled through:

•the 1992 Bland judgment
•professional guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the General Medical Council (GMC)
•the Mental Capacity Act 2005
•the Liverpool Care Pathway
•the Director of Public Prosecutions’ guidelines on assisted suicide

These changes, combined with the influence of pro-euthanasia advocates in academia and the media, has contributed to a mentality which acquiesces in neglecting certain categories of people to death. With this mentality so prevalent in law, policy and opinion, it would be highly dangerous for parliament to legislate in favor of assisted suicide. Such legislation, however seemingly water-tight any safeguards might appear, will create an even wider scope for abuse to go undetected.

Human nature being what it is, abusers will exploit any lowering of protection by testing and breaking the limits of that protection. This generation owes it to its parents and grandparents to hold the line against the culture of death. Note: John Smeaton is the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), a leading pro-life group in the UK.