Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against by Kevin Yuill (auth.)

By Kevin Yuill (auth.)

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Assisted suicide vs assisted dying More recently, and particularly after 9/11, the word ‘suicide’ has fallen out of favour. One of the major themes in this book is that the apparent coherence behind the case for legalization quickly dissolves when Defining the Terms 15 looked at closely. The term ‘assisted dying’ is now the term of choice but is not simply the product of the search for more politic terms since the term ‘suicide bombers’ entered the news. Instead, it appears to denote a shift away from the emphasis on autonomy and self-determination towards a demand that death become a medical choice.

If the phrase ‘suffering unbearably’ is employed as it was in the proposed UK legislation, how will that be determined? 11 The assisted-suicide legislation and proposed legislation has created a new identity in the ‘dying’. But the division between ‘the dying’ – whether they have six or 12 months to live – and the rest of us is false. Who is not dying one day at a time? We are all ‘terminal’, and the worth of our lives should not be crudely measured by the time we have left. Nor is dying a medical act; long before any medical intervention occurred, people were dying without any intervention at all.

Few campaigners for reform of the law wish to follow the Swiss model by calling for permission to assist all suicides (though, as will be discussed, Ludwig Minelli’s Dignitas clinic in Switzerland allows suicide by those with no terminal illness or disability, reflecting Switzerland’s law) and few campaigners against a change in the law wish to see existing law ruthlessly applied to cases whereby a doctor, motivated only by mercy, has terminated the life of a very ill and imminently dying patient to prevent further suffering.

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