Articles

Is the proposed change to assisted dying legislation really about denying choice? Looking afresh at the harm principle

‘harm principle’ the philosopher John Stuart

Esther Rantzen is one of a number of well-known and well-regarded celebrities who have publicly declared their support for a change in the law on assisted dying. When a celebrity makes a pronouncement, many people stop and take notice even if the celebrity is not making any new arguments. Celebrity is persuasive. Esther Rantzen says that she appreciates all the arguments against assisted dying. Nevertheless, she thinks that people should be given a choice about how and when they want to die. In particular, she wants to spare her family from the painful memories of a bad death. She observes that, after all, we give dogs a painless death. Given the current prohibition on assisted dying under English law she has decided that if her treatment for stage four lung cancer does not improve her condition she may just ‘buzz off to Zurich.’

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Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Indi Gregory: finding the hope

Hope

Indi Gregory was not simply another tragic case of a very poorly infant nor the latest case of another contentious end-of-life court case, though her case was the latest in a line of cases where courts sided with doctors against the wishes of parents. Indi was a beloved child, and everyone involved in her care wanted the best for her. The problem was they disagreed on what was best. Unfortunately, it is likely that there will be similar cases in the future which is why it is fruitful to reflect on attitudes and principles underlying decision making in these heart-breaking cases.

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The family – the basic building block of society (part two)

demographic decline

In the first part I wrote about the situation of families that do have children. However, have you thought recently about how old the population looks when you go out onto the street? This is not just because people are living longer. Where are the prams, pushchairs and babies? Pope Francis has talked about how we are moving towards a “demographic winter”.

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