In a highly controversial development, elements in the British government are reportedly contemplating giving people the right to an assisted death, effectively legalizing euthanasia.
According to Sky News, leading Tory MP, Andrew Mitchell, claims there is “growing support” among MPs for a “change in the law” that would provide choice to people who are “nearing the end of their lives”.
If true, then this development signifies a massive shift in attitudes towards euthanasia at the top of the British establishment.
Hitherto, the House of Commons has always voted against allowing any form of assisted dying.
But according to Mitchell, attitudes – including his own – are shifting toward a “tight reform” of the current laws as opposed to a “massive change”.
“I was, as a student and as a young MP, adamantly opposed to assisted dying and over the years my view has changed completely”, Mitchell told Sky News.
“I think that given the very limited nature of these proposals; that it would be for someone who is within six months of the end of their life, with very strong safeguards, the decision being made by a High Court judge, by two doctors – I think those limited proposals may command the support of parliament in the next four years”, Mitchell added.
But the proposed changes to the law – as envisioned by Mitchell – will inevitably encounter fierce opposition, especially from people who fear a slippery slope to Belgium and the Netherlands where the legalization of euthanasia in 2002 had led to abuses.
Sian Vasey, who campaigns on behalf of a group of disabled activists, told Sky News: “I would be very scared if a doctor said to me; ‘Well, you know, would you like to consider ending your life?’
“It’s not a good thing for humanity really. It’s a very discouraging idea that basically [you] go to the doctor and you can negotiate your death”.