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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The Relational Church: Our Calling in Dark Times

caring

Jenny Sinclair is Founder and Director of Together for the Common Good. This is an edited version of her talk, ‘The Relational Church: Our Calling in Dark Times’ given at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, on 1 December 2023. Jenny was guest speaker for the Northern Diaconate Formation Partnership’s training weekend. This summary was first published on Independent Catholic News.

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Transparency, capacity and the nature of palliative care – the case of Sudiksha Thirumalesh

palliative care

In the majority of cases patients and their families trust their doctors. However, there is a growing number of high-profile cases hitting the media where patients, and especially the parents of very young and very poorly infants, simply do not agree with their doctors. Significantly, these cases are where the life of the patient is at stake and doctors believe that it is better to withdraw or withhold treatment and allow the patient to die ‘with dignity’.  

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