While it seems unlikely that the assisted dying bill will be passed through parliament before May’s general election, the issues surrounding assisted suicide are certainly the centre of much current debate. This book contains some very powerful and emotive essays on the subject that are bound to strike a chord, no matter where you stand on the idea.
Some of the most thought-provoking pieces are those written by people suffering from terminal conditions. These give very persuasive arguments for the legalisation of so-called ‘self-deliverance’ or medically assisted rational suicide (MARS). There are also compelling views from legal and religious perspectives.
However, it seems a mistake not to include the opinions of those who have life-altering conditions and prognoses who oppose the idea. Presenting only one side of the discussion leads to an unbalanced read, although the book does go beyond the House of Lords debate, which currently only covers the terminally ill.
Nevertheless, the collection made for an interesting and heart-wrenching read.
As the closing essay points out: ‘It’s accepted everywhere that it is cruel to keep a very sick and suffering animal alive, but the same, understandably doesn’t seem to go for sick and suffering people.’
The debate continues.
Dr Natalie Smith is a GP in Battersea, south west London.