New report from Centre for Policy Studies
A strident consumerist élite is playing on
fears of death and dying to call for the legalisation of assisted suicide,
argues Cristina Odone in Assisted
Suicide: how the chattering classes have got it wrong, a new report
from a British think tank, the Centre
for Policy Studies.
Euthanasia supporters among the “chattering
classes” have nothing to fear from legalisation, she contends. They are
articulate, determined and well-connected, and are unlikely to be bullied into
an early death by greedy or uncaring relatives or bureaucrats.
But millions of others are less fortunate.
Hard-pressed public hospitals and cash-strapped institutions will see the
elderly and the frail as a burden to be shed, not people to be cared for. They
could be subject to manipulation. Legalising assisted suicide, Odone argues,
would run the following risks:
A new category of less-than-perfect
citizens: The old and ill, the mute and frail, will be deemed expendable.
The creation of “death squads”. A
self-selecting cadre of “death regulators” will take charge of
assisted suicide. Who will regulate them to ensure that people do not have
last-minute changes of heart?
Slippery slope to full-scale euthanasia. As
the need to cut costs mounts, pressure to legalise assisted suicide as a
utilitarian solution will grow.
To prevent this, she argues, the British
government should focus on improving the quality of life for the frail, ill and
Cristina Odone was Deputy Editor of the left-leaning magazine The New Statesman
from 1998 to 2004. The story of how her father and step mother fought to keep
alive her brother, struck with a rare neurological disorder at the age of
seven, was turned into the 1992 film, Lorenzo’s Oil.
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