General Article Assisted suicide: how the chattering classes have got it wrong

Topic Selected: Euthanasia
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By Cristina Odone

A painless and speedy death, resulting from a hygienic medical procedure that leaves no mess: assisted suicide is the final consumer fantasy. Although illegal in Britain, it is already available to the determined and comfortably-off, who can buy (at £10,000 a shot) an appointment with death at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Here, completely legally, a physician will inject them with a fatal poison. Why can’t, argue the distinguished and articulate advocates of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, this choice be available to all?

The simple answer is that, if we legalise assisted suicide, we risk having a strident élite condemning the less fortunate to a premature death. For it is the marginalised, the disabled, the less articulate and the poor who are most likely to be under pressure to accelerate their death. The NHS hospital or care home, engulfed by a rising tide of elderly people, and starved of funds, will feel the burden of the ‘bed-blocker’ – an...

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