“Should the law on assisted dying be changed? No!”

By Dave Andrusko

After a moment’s reflection, it became clear that it’d be better for the reader if the medical journal article on which this blog is based is read in its entirety. I am referring to a cogent, thoughtful, passionate case against changing the “assisted dying” law in Britain.

The author is Kevin Fitzpatrick, a researcher for “Not Dead Yet UK,” an advocacy group that understands thoroughly that changes in the law will put people with disabilities right in the cross-hairs of the pro-euthanasia movement.

You can read this rebuttal piece, “Should the law on assisted dying be changed? No,” at www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1883.full. Let me make just three comments about the essay which appears in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

First, the way the BMJ summarizes the case for changing the law speaks volumes: “Raymond Tallis argues that allowing terminally ill people to choose an assisted death is part of good care.” Yes, good care.

Second, having a physical impairment “is already directly associated with an immediate threat to life during medical care,” according to Fitzpatrick. The default response is, “Well OF COURSE they wouldn’t want [fill in the blank].”

Third and finally, these discriminatory conclusions are, in fact, value judgment smuggled in under the guise of “factual” judgments.

“Crucially, the doctors’ judgment, based on the idea of a ‘life not worth living,’ is a moral judgment not of facts (medical or otherwise),” Fitzpatrick argues. “It comes to: ‘I wouldn’t, couldn’t live like that,’ a judgment of the value of another, disabled person’s life; it is not one doctors are generally entitled to make.”

Go to www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1883.full and you will appreciate the powerful case Fitzgerald makes, which ends,

“These discussions are complex, involving deep moral questions that cannot and must not be treated as though they were merely matters of fact with clear and obvious answers that everyone must share, as though logic dictated it. The lives of many disabled people depend on resisting attempts to introduce a law legalizing the intentional act of killing.

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