But only religious people oppose this act?
Many think that all opposition to assisted suicide is religiously-based. That allows assisted suicide advocates to dismiss the valid arguments against the act put forward by representatives of every major religion.
However, many secular groups, too, oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide. Disabled people rightly fear that granting suicide on the basis of physical criteria undermines their equal treatment.
Medical professionals in almost every country in the world continue to oppose legalization; approximately 90 percent of hospice doctors – who have real experience of the problems besetting dying people – oppose legalization.
Doesn’t Oregon shows that legalising assisted suicide is safe?
Don’t look to Oregon – Belgium and the Netherlands are the future of assisted suicide. Assisted suicide will, if this bill passes, be extended. Why? Because once assisted suicide is defined as medical treatment, how can doctors turn away suffering people?
In Belgium, people are routinely euthanised because they are depressed (see Tom Mortier’s chilling story here), and children of any age can request euthanasia. In the Netherlands, as many as one in 33 people now use euthanasia to end their lives, and the number of cases rose from 1,923 in 2006 to nearly 5,000 in 2013.
Oregon contains less than two percent of the population of the United States. Oregon has tried to extend assisted suicide to 12 months to live. But Steve Telfer, president of the board of the Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center, opposed Bill 3337 on the basis that extending it would send the wrong message to lawmakers considering similar legislation.
Why ‘assisted suicide’ and not ‘assisted dying’?
What is proposed in the Assisted Dying Bill is to aid a terminally ill, mentally competent adult who wishes to die to ingest lethal quantities of prescribed drugs. It is suicide.
The term “assisted dying” dishonestly removes the moral implications of suicide by pretending it is simply a medical choice. No To Assisted Suicide calls for honesty in this discussion.
But isn’t the present law cruel, condemning people to a painful death?
The present law (the 1961 Suicide Act) decriminalised suicide to remove the needless and heartless punishment of attempted suicides and families of completed suicides. It does not prevent suicides – no law could – but punishes those who aid or abet suicide.
Only a handful of people have ever been prosecuted under this law. Juries are (rightly) sympathetic in the rare cases where genuine mercy killings come before the courts.
Nor do those opting for assisted suicide in Oregon kill themselves because of pain. In fact pain has never even been in the top five reasons why people opt for an assisted suicide in Oregon (loss of autonomy, inability to do the things that make life enjoyable, loss of dignity, and fear of being a burden all come before pain).
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