CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu
Euthanasia 0 2e
Assisted Suicide

What are the key arguments against assisted suicide?

30 October 2019

In a previous piece, we looked at the main arguments employed by those in favour of legalising some form of assisted suicide. In this article, we explore the key arguments against legalising any form of assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The Current Law

Assisted suicide is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment; however, committing an offence does not automatically result in prosecution. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has to consider whether a prosecution is in the public interest. Eminent former judge and Crossbench Peer, Baroness Butler-Sloss has described the current settlement in the following terms: “We have a law with the “teeth” to deter and the discretion, where appropriate, to temper justice with mercy.”

What do campaigners want?

There is a lobby of campaigners and individuals who are determined to see some form of assisted suicide introduced in the UK. One of the most prominent campaigners is Dignity in Dying, formerly The Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Why say no to assisted suicide?

We can alleviate pain

Nearly all pain can be alleviated to some degree through medicine and especially the provision of palliative care. This is a positive alternative to seeking a premature death. When patients’ needs, including their physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs are properly met, requests for assisted suicide are extremely rare. The UK is a world leader in the provision of palliative care and our mission should be to build on this legacy.

Autonomy is not absolute

In a democratic society where we greatly value our freedoms, we all recognise that there are limits to our autonomy. No-one is completely free. Laws exist to protect people from being harmed and from committing harm (even to themselves), and that necessarily places limitations on our actions.

Vulnerable people will be pressurised

If we change the law to permit assisted suicide, it is inevitable that the right to die will soon become a duty to die for some of the most vulnerable in our society. The possibility of economic pressure coming to bear must not be ruled out. Killing is cost-effective, especially over the longer term when compared with the cost of caring for someone for years. In this context, it is impossible to create a law that is truly safe from abuse or exploitation, and evidence from other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal have demonstrated this.

We could never fully control it

It does not matter how many safeguards you pile into the legislation; it would be impossible to fully and perfectly control euthanasia or assisted suicide laws. Just look at what has happened in the Netherlands, the world’s first euthanasia laboratory. The slippery slope of assisted suicide can be clearly seen in a country where it is now legal to kill severely disabled children or people with depression.

It would damage the patient/doctor relationship

Would the relationship between doctors and patients ever recover? At the very heart of doctor/patient relations is trust. Undermine that and you would strike a blow against the very centre of good healthcare practice. If we permit assisted suicide, then it would give doctors powers they should not have, and economic factors or convenience could well influence their decisions.

Conclusion

There are other arguments we could advance, but what is set out here is an attempt to identify the main arguments used to counter those calling for assisted suicide. As we shall explore in the next article, at its heart the debate about assisted suicide is a clash of two very different worldviews.

Euth

Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

Find out more about the cause

Sign up for Impact Direct, and email publications

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news

1993 care for life 3

Public consultation to be held on extending ‘DIY abortions’ beyond COVID-19

The UK Government is to hold a public consultation on whether to allow women to carry on accessing home abortions, even after the coronavirus legislation has ceased to have effect.

Keep reading
Newborn baby mother 1

No abortion amendments to the DAB and your help made all the difference

It would be easy to miss the significance of what happened last night in the House of Commons in respect to the Domestic Abuse Bill. For one thing, a vital piece of legislation has moved a step closer to becoming law. It addresses issues that are not currently dealt with by existing laws and it will provide support for victims of domestic violence, create new offences and send a message that domestic abuse will not be tolerated. This matters enormously because of who we are. Humans are not objects to be subjected to coercion or abuse. We are image bearers of God and crowned with glory and honour.

Keep reading
Mother baby touching hands 8

Big win as dangerous home abortion amendment is withdrawn

An attempt to change the law to legalise dangerous home abortions on a permanent basis has been halted after the MP who tabled the amendment to achieve this end withdrew the amendment at the last moment.

Keep reading