Health secretary Matt Hancock has signalled his support for opening up discussions on the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted dying. Though he has opposed legalisation in the past, Hancock is reconsidering the issue in light of arguments made by Sir Paul Cosford, the medical director of Public Health England who died of cancer last month and who had called for a rethink of assisted-dying laws in the UK.
Discussion of the legalisation of assisted dying is welcome. But too often ‘discussion’ becomes a series of harrowing and awful descriptions of deaths that all of us, understandably, would wish to avoid. Not surprisingly, legislation to avoid such deaths seems a great idea.
Until, that is, we examine the issue more deeply. Before legislating assisted dying and/or euthanasia, we need to examine the ramifications of equating killing with compassion, and death with medical treatment.