Is the Fight against Assisted Dying a Lost Cause?

May 22, 2024 by

By Mehmet Ciftci, Public Discourse:

Canada’s infamy has led many to rethink their support for assisted dying, no matter how strong the purported safeguards may be.

The legalization of assisted dying in the UK is inevitable, according to UnHerd columnist Kathleen Stock. She argues that the death of God has created a secular outlook that “paralyzes many of us intellectually” and “means that a selfish mental focus upon alleviating future personal suffering is the only cause we can really get behind.” Without “some deeply felt theological or philosophical principle about the intrinsic value of human life” there remains nothing but “vague intuitions and orphaned remnants of moral reasoning inherited from a formerly Christian outlook.” These will be “no match against the powerful lure of a vision of preventing personal physical suffering in [the] future, or the suffering of loved ones, via the offering of a serene and painless death.”

She does seem convinced that legalization would “wreak more quantifiable havoc than it prevents, in exactly the ways anticipated by critics: guilt-tripping those who feel like burdens into premature endings; tempting the already depressed towards easy oblivion.” And yet, she also thinks that arguing against this would require “positive belief in something.” She notes: “Those who want to see the back of assisted-dying laws had probably better start praying harder, though I wouldn’t hold out any hope.”

But the fight against assisted dying is not as hopeless as she thinks. In fact, there are reasons for hope in recent news that should encourage those in the United States who are looking nervously at what is going on in Canada.

First, we need to reject the view that treats the entire matter as a lost battle. Stock is not the only one to say that more and more countries will inevitably legalize assisted suicide. The British journalist Matthew Parris, in an article tastelessly published on Good Friday in the Times, wrote approvingly that societies burdened with too many old people will have to drop an absolute taboo against ending the life of the sick or aged if they want to survive and remain competitive. In 2015, he wrote with an even greater sense of fatalism: “I do not therefore need to campaign for assisted dying. . . . My opinions and my voice are incidental. This is a social impulse that will grow, nourished by forces larger than all of us. I don’t exhort. I predict.”

Read here


Related Posts


Share This