It seems that the world, or at least the European world, is slowly catching up with the concept that we, as individuals, do have the right to choose when we die and apply that to a “futile medical condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated”. So why is the UK lagging behind growing support for this fundamental human right?
As Belgium currently process an extension of this freedom to include minors and Alzheimer’s sufferers isn’t it time one political party at least declared an intention to make this a structured, lawful activity and commit to creating a legal framework in order to make it safe, fair and to rationalise a currently complex situation. That party should be UKIP.
Such a declaration is also likely to be popular. After all it’s a very personal matter so anyone who would not want to avail themselves of this right needn’t do so. Opposition will come from groups with a vested interest in dictating how we should live (or end) our lives such as the Church of England but even their arguments are confused, oscillating between religious principle and the perceived difficulty in framing legislation. Principally, though, it is a personal decision that could be made many years in advance as is the case with organ donation.
In a sense it is an apolitical policy, a sort of ‘stand alone’ matter. Also, to declare such intent doesn’t require a comprehensive legal framework to be in place only the commitment to create one. As more and more countries overcome outdated attitudes the legal complexity argument tends to diminish as again and again states demonstrate their ability to create a functioning framework to allow this most basic of rights to be upheld.
It seems there are no legal obstacles anymore only prejudice.
It is important that UKIP captures the attention of the public so any policy which is ‘self contained’ as moral policies tend to be, of universal interest to everyone, an extension of personal choice, defendable from a cost perspective, is easy to convey and is avoided by the other parties, has to be an important addition to our manifesto.
Currently it is a muddled arena and the present laws are not suited to purpose. Suicide is perfectly legal but the complexities of description arise when this completely independent act of ending ones own life is not possible. For example, each separate way of allowing or helping this can be viewed separately by the law from simply switching off a machine, through withholding sustenance or medication, or administering too much medication, providing the facility for self injection to administering such with the sole intention of ending a life. It is only really the latter description that uses the word euthanasia. Other methods of helping a person to die may be referred to as ‘assisted dying’ and remain ‘technically’ unlawful. The ‘assisted’ part of this process is solely to ensure a pain free death in circumstances that maintain a degree of dignity and control.
When one boils it down, the arguments against all descriptions of self determination of death hinge around only two aspects.
- It’s not possible to create a suitably safe legal framework
- It’s against god’s will.
The first of these is systematically being proved false as more and more countries adopt a ‘right to choose’ agenda and the second, whilst it may be theologically valid has probably past its period of usefulness. It wouldn’t be the first time that ‘gods will’ experienced some amendment by the sitting establishment and this may need to be one of those occasions. After all it’s all in the interpretation.
This may be one of the most important freedoms we could solidify and it would be highly apposite for UKIP, the party of freedom, individuality and independence to drive this forward.