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Assisted suicide

October 2011

Assisted suicide

The campaign for loosening the laws on assisted suicide was given a fillip after the BBC ‘Hardtalk’ series produced an episode featuring a man trapped inside his body.
    Tony Nicklinson, who suffered a stroke six years ago that has paralysed him completely, is only able to use his eyes to communicate, although his mind is fully conscious.
    Presented by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur, the programme asked whether someone who is fully able to make decisions, but unable to carry them out, could request that someone else takes their life away when the time comes. Mr Nicklinson spelled out his intention that he and his wife, Jane, wanted to win ‘the right to be killed’.
    At the moment, the UK law prevents relatives and friends from taking the life of an incapable loved one, although many are circumventing this by paying to go to the private Swiss euthanasia clinic Dignitas.
    Those recently who have taken their terminally ill or severely disabled spouses, parents or children to Dignitas, or those who have ‘pulled the plug’ themselves, have not yet been prosecuted, although many cases have been opened.
    Earlier in September, The Times reported how the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was effectively clearing the way for assisted suicide by not taking action in any cases.
    According to the report, Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions (DPP), acknowledged that no prosecutions had been made since CPS guidelines were given a year and a half ago on the matter. All cases of assisted suicide are considered personally by the DPP.
    Pro-life groups are concerned that allowing assisted suicide could not only devalue human life, but open the floodgates for the murder of vulnerable people.

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