January
22
 

Is England following Netherlands down euthanasia path?

England is in danger of following the Netherlands down the road of illegal but tolerated euthanasia, according to a London legal expert. In a biting article in the Solicitors Journal Jacqueline Laing declares that " It was precisely the failure to prosecute that gave the Netherlands its status as a progressive state permissive of euthanasia decades ago. This inevitably led to its legalisation". And she points out that Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke has already suggested that his supporters consider travelling to England where they can evade prosecution.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is currently conducting a public consultation about penalties for assisted suicide at the request of the Law Lords. But despite the fig-leaf of democratic consensus-building, Dr Laing claims that the guidance is  "unconstitutional, arbitrary and at odds with human rights law, properly understood".
Effectively, her argument is that the guidance constitutes euthanasia by stealth. Significant changes in legislation are the province of Parliament, not the judiciary, and still less a consultation paper.

She also contends that euthanasia is incompatible with human rights such as non-discrimination and equal dignity and that it will lead to discrimination against the vulnerable and depressed. The future is bleak: "Once this unconstitutional and illegal guidance becomes normalised, financial, scientific and medical interests willincentivise what can only be described as homicidal practice."

The Royal College of Physicians has also weighed into the debate with a stern letter to the DPP. Its registrar, Dr Rodney Burnham, suggests that any doctor who participates in assisted suicide should be prosecuted. The College's position is that “Assisting suicide has been clearly and expressly outside our duty of care since Hippocrates and must remain so for the integrity of these professions and the public good.” ~ Solicitors Journal, Jan 19; London Telegraph, Jan 19

 



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