Friday, November 21, 2008

Excellent Tablet Editorial

No, I have not lost possession of my mental faculties. I don't like the Tablet, but their arguments are impeccably correct in this case so I really did mean to use the word 'excellent' in the title of this post. Whilst trawling through The Tablet website the other day, I stumbled upon an editorial about Daniel James, the young rugby player who committed suicide in Switzerland after being paralysed in an accident. The editorial focuses on Warnock's deplorable position and the inevitable slippery slope caused by calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide:

While Lady Warnock's utilitarian approach has shocked many, she has also done society a service in showing how efforts to reform the law at one level - in the name of compassion for the terminally ill - leads swiftly to calls for even greater changes in the law in the name of personal autonomy. It is becoming seemingly more acceptable to suggest that the physically disabled and those suffering from mental affliction should organise their deaths as a reasonable response to their condition.

A law permitting assisted suicide would be a message to the vulnerable that their lives are no longer valued. Rather than being barbaric, as some suggest, the outlawing of assisting suicide is protective of those in greatest need of care.

Baroness Warnock's suggestion that those suffering from dementia would be doing the right thing if they chose to die could well be taken up as a solution to scarce resources. But a society that puts resources before patients is neither a compassionate nor a civilised one.