Raymond Tallis in the next issue of The New Humanist makes the case for assisted dying.
The case for a law to legalise the choice of physician-assisted dying for mentally competent people with terminal illness, who have expressed a settled wish to die, is very easily stated. Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care, and inflicted on a dying patient against their will, is an unequivocal evil. What’s more, the right to have your choices supported by others, to determine your own best interest, when you are of sound mind, is sovereign. And this is accepted by a steady 80-plus per cent of the UK population in successive surveys.
But the UK population still can’t have it, because god. But the goddists try to hide the god part, so that they can win.
Only four of the known 30 member organisations of Care Not Killing are non-religious. So much for “a broad coalition”. Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship and Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, made the strategy clear:
“As Christian doctors we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide because we believe in the sanctity of human life made in the image of God … But to win the debate on assisted dying we need to be using arguments that will make sense to those who do not share our Christian beliefs … Christian doctors need to play a key role in this debate; and they will do so most effectively by learning to put what are essentially Christian arguments in secular language.”
In other words, we christians want to bully everyone, so we’ll hide our christianness to fool people into thinking we have secular reasons so that they will let us bully them into doing what we want-because-god.
Most faith-based opponents of assisted dying, therefore, conceal their real reasons behind arguments intended to instil fear of the consequences of legalisation – mobilising factoids that do not withstand scrutiny as part of the “strictly evidence-based approach” referred to by Living and Dying Well.
He ends with the horrible death of Ann McPherson – a doctor and the wife and mother of doctors – who had wanted and campaigned for choice in dying but didn’t get it.
The end came at last, after three endless, unbearable weeks of unremitting suffering:
“Even as she died, her body seemed furious with its final fight, gasping to the end, and in a desperate haunting shudder I found myself sitting in pools of expelled fluid. That was not what she wanted. Mum had seen this happen before and wanted to avoid it, for future patients and their families.”
Thus the testimony (much abbreviated) of a loving daughter.
Because of the fancy footwork of those who have beliefs I do not share, this is a fate that could await me or those I love. A small but vocal group, prepared to bear other people’s suffering heroically for the sake of God, must not be allowed to impose their views on the rest of the medical profession, and through them on society as a whole. Opponents of change make a lot of noise – it’s time that the relatively silent majority made more.