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Getting it so wrong over the right to die
Isede juliet|Aug. 07, 2019
As a terminally ill person facing a very distressing death even with good palliative care, I take the greatest exception to Professor Keown’s letter ( No need to change assisted dying laws , 5 August). His excessive use of inverted commas renders the tone of his letter so patronising that it verges on insulting. “Terminally ill” and “incurable” are not matters of opinion, but simple medical fact.
He poses a number of questions about a possible extension of assisted dying to other categories of suffering, to which the answer surely must be: why not? Provided strict legal safeguards are in place and carefully adhered to, assisted dying is such an obvious solution for those whose lives have become agonisingly intolerable to them that it must surely come into law sooner or later. For myself, the sooner the better.
Dr Brigid Purcell
• Professor Keown makes valid points about the illogicality of stating that choosing how we die is a fundamental right, but then restricting it to a small group of the terminally ill/incurably suffering. He asks why those suffering but unable to ask for death should be excluded, as well as other groups who feel their lives are unbearable. I found myself agreeing with all of this until I reached the end of his letter and found that he believed that this inconsistency was a reason for refusing assisted dying to anyone, rather than rethinking the eligibility criteria.
I struggle to understand why we are comfortable with anyone dying, or indeed living, in unendurable pain, mental or physical, when we could assist them to end it. If Professor Keown is right that the safeguards in place are not as robust as they need to be, is that not where we should direct our attention, rather than simply abandoning these people to their suffering, including those who are loudly and desperately pleading for our help?
Jill Wallis
Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire
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