Baroness Butler-Sloss who headed the UK family court system speaks out against euthanasia and assisted suicide on the eve of the Appeal hearing int he UK Supreme Court in the Nicklinson/Lamb case. The quotes that follow are from the Mail OnLine report:
From the article:
One of the country’s most distinguished judges has warned of the peril of legalising assisted suicide.
Allowing the terminally ill to be killed would cross ‘a line in the sand’ towards euthanasia, according to Baroness Butler-Sloss.
‘The law rests on the principle that we do not involve ourselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of others,’ she said yesterday.
‘Once we start making exceptions based on arbitrary criteria like terminal illness, that frontier becomes just a line in the sand, easily crossed and hard to defend.’
Lady Butler-Sloss, an appeal judge who headed the family court system until her retirement, intervened in the euthanasia argument on the eve of a landmark Supreme Court case.
Nine judges will sit in a test case, which decides whether the assisted suicide law should be changed.
The Supreme Court hearing, which will consider appeals on behalf of two men who want doctors to be able to help them die, coincides with a new attempt by right-to-die campaigner Lord Falconer to persuade peers to vote for a law to allow doctors to help terminally ill patients to die.
The Mail further quotes the Baroness:
‘Assisting suicide is against the criminal law, and with good reason. The prohibition is there to protect vulnerable people. Yet some are suggesting that this process should be put into reverse for terminally ill people and that doctors should be licensed to facilitate their suicide.’
Reserving her strongest criticisms for the pro-assisted suicide movement, the Baroness observed appropriately:
‘Campaigners throw up their hands at the word suicide,’ she said. ‘Giving lethal drugs to someone who is terminally ill isn’t assisting suicide, they say, but assisting dying.
‘Similarly, Lord Falconer’s Private Member’s Bill, now before the House of Lords, describes the lethal drugs that it wants doctors to be able to supply to terminally ill patients as “medicines”. Such euphemisms may make the idea of changing the law more palatable, but they obstruct reasoned debate.’
‘Parliament has to make laws to protect all of us, especially the most vulnerable.
‘It is hard to imagine any group of people more vulnerable than those who are dying. They need our support and protection, not our help to commit suicide.’
NB: In July this year a UK Appeal Court upheld the High Court's original judgement that the Parliament and not the courts should decide on whether or not to change the laws on assisted suicide. Both plaintiffs wanted the law to create an effective immunity for a person or persons who assisted them to die.
Nicklinson has since died but his action carries on through his wife while Lamb is still seeking to go to Switzerland to die with assistance.
A new bill in the House of Lords seeks to introduce the euphemistically titled 'assistance in dying'. It will not be debated until the first session in the New Year.