As debate over end-of-life issues intensifies in the UK, the Anscombe Centre has released a comprehensive ‘evidence guide’ on the issue of euthanasia. The aim is “to help people assess – and judge for themselves whether they are reassured or whether they are alarmed by – the experience of countries where euthanasia or assisted suicide are legal.”
The guide gives direct links to official data from the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the states of Oregon and Washington. It also includes links to relevant UK parliamentary reports and to empirical research published in journals.
A 2014 Comres/CARE poll found that almost three-quarters of Britons (70%) support a change in current UK assisted-dying legislation. Interestingly, this number dropped to 43% after certain arguments against euthanasia were heard.
David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Centre, says that “the evidence from all these countries [where assisted dying has been legalised] shows a steady increase in deaths by assisted suicide or euthanasia, a steady expansion to include patients with different conditions, and a steady decrease in the use of safeguards such as psychiatric assessment.”
The Centre has also produced a two-page briefing entitled ‘Eight Reasons not to legalize Physician Assisted Suicide’. Professor Jones argues that legalizing physician assisted suicide would not address the needs of the dying but would threaten people with disabilities and those who are suicidal. Permitting healthcare professionals to ‘encourage or assist’ suicide would undermine key principles of law, medical ethics and palliative care.
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