Abandoning the Disabled to Assisted Suicide in the UK

By Wesley J. Smith

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s fine blog .

The UK is falling off a vertical moral cliff on the assisted suicide issue.  It remains a crime.  But the Public Prosecutor of England and Wales has stated that if, after a complete investigation, it is determined that family or others who assist suicides did it for an altruistic reason, there will be no prosecution.  Indeed, the death could even by accomplished by the assister, and nothing will be done.

What is the message of that directive?  That the assisted suicides of people with disabilities and serious illnesses don’t matter as much as those of others–so long as the motive is “compassion.”  And now, police in Scotland have so absorbed that insidious message that at least in one case, they aren’t even bothering with the police investigation. 

From the story [www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2011/07/14/police-drop-investigation-into-dignitas-assisted-suicide-mother-86908-23270462]:

POLICE are not pursuing charges against a woman who took her paralysed son to a controversial Swiss clinic to take his own life, it emerged today. Helen Cowie last month publicly admitted taking her son Robert, 33, to the Dignitas clinic to commit suicide after he was left paralysed from the neck down. Immediately after the admission on BBC Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye programme, Strathclyde Police said they would consider the circumstances of Mr Cowie`s death, but they have now decided not to launch an investigation. A spokeswoman said today: “Strathclyde Police is not conducting any investigation into the death of Robert Cowie at this time.”

This is so tragic.  Five years from now, Robert might have remade his life and been very glad to be alive–which often happens in these very difficult circumstances.  But now he will never have the chance.  And the police even don’t care enough about his death to bother mounting an investigation into its circumstances.

Think about the message that sends to people with disabilities, and to society about how we should think of such people.  Also note that the story only presents the pro suicide perspective.  As Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne once wrote, “A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.”

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