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Finally Assisted Suicide is on the agenda

Zylorarchy
Posts: 209
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7/20/2014 4:53:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I hope to cover many topics in this post (so hopefully I'll get some replies). I shall hopefully discuss the bill itself, as well as why I think it could well actually be passed.

1) The House of Lords

Firstly, this bill is a Private Members Bill which has been introduced in the House of Lords. Why is this significant? Well, the very fact that it is (A) a Private Members Bill and (B) has been introduced in the House of Lords as opposed to the House of Commons means that it automatically has a higher chance of passing due to the considerably lower impact of "politicisation". If you understand why or simply do not want to read why and accept this, move onto point two.

To start off, a Private Members Bill is a bill which has not been introduced by a government minister, and so therefore is, as you can imagine, not so much slated and scrutinised by the opposition and, it is a well known fact that previously controversial bills have made it through via Private Members Bill, such as the Abortion Act 1967 (which legalised abortion). It is also true that, government ministers tend to avoid such hugely controversial bills anyway.

More to the point though, this bill has been introduced in the unelected House of Lords where party politics play a much lesser role than they do in the House of Commons. Though some MP's sitting in the Lords do represent parties, many do not, and unlike in the Commons where MP's are elected, MP's in the Lords are chosen for their expertise and due to their contribution to the country. Some may argue that the Lords are far more suitable for law making as opposed to squabbling MP's that have far less knowledge in the Commons.

The overall point here though, is that MP's in the Lords will not simply spend time slagging each other off, but actually work towards making a decent law. Due to the high number of independents and lack of party politics, as I have said, bills in this chamber of Parliament therefore do avoid "politicisation", perfect for very controversial bills. This bill will not be made in light of "Will this win us the next election?" But will be made for the good of the people.

As the bill has passed the second reading, things do look good and if it does pass the Lords, the Commons will not have to really debate it so much. Oh, the bill will go through the same process, but the Lords will have already done all of the work and the Commons in reality merely have to pass the bill. I would hope that, seeing as the Lords would have already essentially made the proposed law, that it would avoid much of the political in the Commons and that seeing as many in the Commons will probably want this to pass anyway, they will pass it, but will ultimately not have to deal with all the politics of drafting this bill from scratch (which is what the Lords will have done).

2) The Bill itself

This bill does not legalise euthanasia, but assisted suicide. What is the biggest criticism of assisted suicide? That relatives will essentially "fob off" their elder family and such, so the younger people will not have to care for those sent to have their lives ended. Indeed, many on the news who have massively debilitating disabilities have raised concerns that others will pressure them to essentially kill themselves.

However, I think the BBC have interviewed many of the wrong people. All of those they interviewed would not actually be eligible for assisted suicide under this bill. Not long ago I suggested (in the Polls) a limited form of assisted suicide in which those who faced certain imminent death, be eligible for assisted suicide. And this bill is essentially what that is. People are simply getting the wrong idea.

To be eligible for assisted suicide under this bill the following circumstances must be met:
- The patient must have less than six months to live
- Two doctors must both agree that the patient is of sound mind and that the decision to end their life is indeed theirs

This bill does not allow those who have potentially years and years to live, but who have potentially quite a poor quality of life to end their life. I cannot stress enough that this bill only grants a limited form of assisted suicide. It would only be available for those who definitely have less than six months to live. It would not be available for anyone who simply has a poor quality of life due to a severe (physical) disability. Had he lived, Tony Nicklinson would not have been eligible for this.

And this is my main point here, this addresses the criticism that people may be pressured to die. Years simply cannot be taken off people's lives. This is not really ending a person's life who has a miserable existence due to disease (although I think many of us hope that it will eventually reach that stage), but putting a dying person out of their misery, or ending a dying persons suffering. Make no mistake, some cancers in particular cause agony for patients who suffer for extremely long periods of time before eventually dying.

Although I hope that eventually the likes of Tony Nicklinson could have been put out of his misery, that is simply too big of step (to start with) and the concern that young relatives could fob off elder relatives is a big risk. This limited form is assisted suicide addresses this as it is only available for those who are actually dying.

I would therefore say that there is real little risk that this will be largely abused by younger relatives. The bill is said to have more safeguards than its equivalent in Oregan. And this is why I think it probably, and hopefully will pass. It is no secret that the people of Britain largely want this, 8 of 10 if I am not mistaken.

If this bill does pass, it will truly be a great day for the UK. If we have a right to life, then surely, we should have the right to die. This is long overdue, and simply ask yourselves, if animals can be put our of their misery, why can't humans?
"I am not intolerant of religion, I am intolerant of intolerance"
"True freedom is not simply left or right. It is the ability to know when a law is needed, but more importantly, know when one is not"
E_Pluribus_Unum
Posts: 53
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7/21/2014 6:54:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/20/2014 4:53:58 PM, Zylorarchy wrote:
To be eligible for assisted suicide under this bill the following circumstances must be met:
- The patient must have less than six months to live
- Two doctors must both agree that the patient is of sound mind and that the decision to end their life is indeed theirs

This is the whole premise of why the bill is good. But I can't say I think either of these standards will always be met, and one failure of meeting requirements involving termination of a human life is too many. Although I can think of a few arguments for being against euthanasia, I will right now simply criticize these two requirements.

For the first requirement, how can we be certain the patient has less than six months to live? Who is going to be the one who determines that a patient will certainly die in less than six months? We have to assume that this person will be correct in every assessment of a person's lifespan. There are people with cancer or other ailments that have survived years or even decades longer than their physicians told them they would. The fact trained professionals cannot right now have flawless accuracy and precision with their prognosis of someone's life span means at least one person will be inevitable euthanized that would have lived over six months longer if that had not been euthanized.

For the second requirement, to be honest the desire to end one's own life itself is not rational. If one makes an assertion that it is alright to allow people to take their own lives in certain circumstances then that person is engaging in special pleading. We cannot rationally draw a distinct line of what these certain circumstances are because we invest emotions and biases on where we believe we can draw the line. Besides, a person's (lack of) self-worth is usually a clear hint at the existence of mental disorders.
Zylorarchy
Posts: 209
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7/28/2014 4:38:00 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/21/2014 6:54:14 PM, E_Pluribus_Unum wrote:
At 7/20/2014 4:53:58 PM, Zylorarchy wrote:
To be eligible for assisted suicide under this bill the following circumstances must be met:
- The patient must have less than six months to live
- Two doctors must both agree that the patient is of sound mind and that the decision to end their life is indeed theirs

This is the whole premise of why the bill is good. But I can't say I think either of these standards will always be met, and one failure of meeting requirements involving termination of a human life is too many. Although I can think of a few arguments for being against euthanasia, I will right now simply criticize these two requirements.

For the first requirement, how can we be certain the patient has less than six months to live? Who is going to be the one who determines that a patient will certainly die in less than six months? We have to assume that this person will be correct in every assessment of a person's lifespan. There are people with cancer or other ailments that have survived years or even decades longer than their physicians told them they would. The fact trained professionals cannot right now have flawless accuracy and precision with their prognosis of someone's life span means at least one person will be inevitable euthanized that would have lived over six months longer if that had not been euthanized.

For the second requirement, to be honest the desire to end one's own life itself is not rational. If one makes an assertion that it is alright to allow people to take their own lives in certain circumstances then that person is engaging in special pleading. We cannot rationally draw a distinct line of what these certain circumstances are because we invest emotions and biases on where we believe we can draw the line. Besides, a person's (lack of) self-worth is usually a clear hint at the existence of mental disorders.

Here is the bill itself (obviously subject to amendment before it is passed).

http://www.publications.parliament.uk...

There is admittedly not a huge amount of detail given into how the doctors will ascertain that (A) a person has less than six months to live and (B) how said doctors will ascertain that the person wishing to die is of sound mind to make that decision. I would assume these are for the NHS to decide, but of course, whatever method must meet the standards set in the act.

A terminal illness is defined in the act as:
(1) For the purposes of this Act, a person is terminally ill if that person"
(a) has been diagnosed by a registered medical practitioner as having an
inevitably progressive condition which cannot be reversed by
treatment ("a terminal illness"); and
(b) as a consequence of that terminal illness, is reasonably expected to die
within six months.
(2) Treatment which only relieves the symptoms of an inevitably progressive
condition temporarily is not to be regarded as treatment which can reverse that
condition.

For the "death" to actually occur, this declaration must be made.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, a person has a clear and settled intention to end
their own life if"
(a) the person has made and signed a declaration to that effect in the form
in the Schedule in the presence of a witness (who must not be a relative
or directly involved in the person"s care or treatment) who signed the
declaration in the person"s presence; and
(b) that declaration has been countersigned in accordance with subsection
(3) by"
(i) the registered medical practitioner from whom the person has
requested assistance to end their life ("the attending doctor");
and
(ii) another registered medical practitioner ("the independent
doctor") who is not a relative, partner or colleague in the same
practice or clinical team, of the attending doctor;

I mean really I could quote the whole act, but it would be better to go and read it for yourself. But to more directly answer your questions, two doctors (who will operate initially independent of one another) must both agree that the illness is terminal, treatment will not reverse the illness, and that the illness will end the patient's life in less than six months. They must also both agree that the patient is definitely of sound mind and that this is really what they want.

To address your second point I could easily argue that the will to live is not rational at all if you are destined to die in agony.

As I say, how exactly the doctors assess both the length of life and sound of mind is not a legal matter, but a medical one. This act states this is the standard, you of course raise doubts of these standards being met. But I put it to you, how will progress ever be made if we do not take this first step? It is not as if someone with a well known, long term terminal illness (such as AIDS) can be eligible for this. This will apply mostly to the cancer patients (cancer now estimated to affect 1/3 at some point) and personally I think you give doctors less credit than they deserve, yes there are cases when they can be wrong, but how often do you think they are right? If the guidelines were often wrong, they would not be used would they? If you are told you have a matter of months to live, chances are... you only have that.
"I am not intolerant of religion, I am intolerant of intolerance"
"True freedom is not simply left or right. It is the ability to know when a law is needed, but more importantly, know when one is not"