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Physician Assisted Death Or Suicide in the UK

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  300 people with a terminal illness commit suicide in Britain each year. 300 people who feel they are left with no other option. 300 people that consciously decide a that a traumatic, painful, and lonely death is preferable to the long, drawn-out death they would otherwise have to face. This is the stark reality of the current situation in the UK. At the moment, assisted death or physician-assisted suicide is illegal in the UK which means that many people are denied the option of a dignified death. This crime against humanity is senseless and works against many of the most vulnerable members of our community who, faced with the prospect of months of pain and deterioration, surely deserve to be able to access the resources to find peace in the form of death?

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The current options in the UK for somebody seeking this peace are bleak. The first option, chosen by many, is to take matters into their own hands and commit suicide. This is not an end that can be wished on anybody. Although suicide can provide a quick death, this death is destined to be lonely (for fear of implicating anyone involved or with knowledge in a crime with a sentence of up to fourteen years) and prohibits any farewells. Instead of this, many others decided that, given the circumstances, the best option for them is to refuse food and fluids. Whilst this is a natural death and does not have to be a lonely one, this still isn’t an option the many would choose given the alternative of a drug-assisted death. In addition to these, there is another course of action that can be taken – although this is exclusively available to those with substantial funds available to them. The option I’m referring to of course is a physician-assisted death that can be provided in Switzerland.

Whilst not the only country in the world that has decreed that assisted suicide should be aloud, Switzerland is the only country that accepts foreigners into their country to end their lives. So, for any British citizen who desires help to end their lives, they are faced with a major uphill climb. This means that from start to finish the whole thing has to be undertaken alone – you’re not forgetting that this falls under the law that prohibits assisting suicide are you? Oh, and did I mention that this is going to cost you £10 000? This is absurd. As a country, we have to open our eyes to the struggles that our fellow citizens are faced with because one day, whether we care to think about it or not, it may well be us faced with the prospect of dying a painful death drawn out over many months. And I don’t know about you, but 84% of the public and me are backing a bill that just seems to be common sense, one that would give many access to a dignified death.

Now I can’t deny that allowing a new law to be passed legalising assisted death has the potential to be harmful. There has to be major consideration and foresight to ensure that it would not end up causing more harm than good. This is why I believe that in the UK we should adopt a law that only allows adults who are mentally competent, have a terminal illness, and are predicted to have less than 6 months less to live.        

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