Legalise It: Euthanasia

Scarlett Welch makes a case for the legalisation of euthanasia.

Scarlett Welch
26th February 2021

Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, is the practice of helping someone to end their life in cases of terminal illness. 

This is currently illegal in the UK - you could face up to 14 years in prison for helping a loved one to end their suffering. But this isn't the case everywhere.

Switzerland is perhaps the most well-known country for allowing euthanasia in its Dignitas clinics, legalised in 1942. This is not the only place that assisted suicide is legal in some form; Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Colombia are a few examples of the growing number of places where euthanasia is permitted. 

So why can’t the UK government legalise it?

Each year roughly 350 British citizens travel to Switzerland to end their lives, at huge risk to anyone who travelled with them when returning to the UK.

Each year roughly 350 British citizens travel to Switzerland to end their lives, at huge risk to anyone who travelled with them when returning to the UK. The financial cost of this and the difficulty of travel for the terminally ill can also prohibit many from ending their suffering. 

Sharing an argument commonly used in favour of abortion, euthanasia being illegal means that more people will assist their loves one in suicide at home, which is far more traumatic and likely to go wrong. In euthanasia clinics, patients can ‘die with dignity’ in a safe and measured way.

A 2019 opinion poll by the National Centre for Social Research shows that 90% of people in Britain are in favour of legalising assisted suicide

A 2019 opinion poll by the National Centre for Social Research shows that 90% of people in Britain are in favour of legalising assisted suicide, and there have been several legal challenges by individuals wishing to end their suffering. Yet in 2015, parliament voted against legalising some form of assisted dying 330 to 118, and every legal challenge has been dismissed in court.

Although helping someone to end their life is not a nice idea, surely you’d rather them die peacefully, surrounded by their loved ones, than fight a painful battle for months that you know they will eventually lose. So why can’t the government see this? Legalising euthanasia is making the kind decision for the terminally ill.

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