This part of the speech deals with the slippery slope argument, of which there are many versions. Among the versions of this argument is that if a law comes in it is sure to be abused. Patients will no longer trust their doctors, and the distinction between voluntary and non-voluntary suicide will be eroded if the law is liberalised. The slippery slope argument argues that patients will be coerced because they feel they are a burden on family or society or the NHS, and that their finances will be squandered on their care. The argument goes that people could be coerced into making this decision by predatory relatives after their money. But this argument forgets a huge part of human psychology, and that is that life has a purpose, and no one wants to be a burden.
As we get older many of us regard our lives as a story, our autobiography. We know, the Baroness argues, where we came from and what we have done, and what we intended our life to be, and dying is the last chapter of our lives. We don’t want our last chapter to ramble on, but to be brought to a conclusive end so that we are not remembered as futile burdens on family.
And of course many people live longer than in the past, so for those that say God has given us an appointed time to die, the fact is that very often doctors take Gods part and enable us to live much longer. The consequences of living longer is that people who are demented and cannot recognise family or friends tends to beg the question what is the point?
I believe that if someone is diagnosed as having the beginnings of dementia – at that stage it is a possible duty that doctors should talk – talk- to the patient about what they want to happen to him or her when the moment comes of steep decline.
It is of enormous importance that people should discuss their death before it happens and write down what they want to happen to them and beseech the doctors to help them to die. When their life to them is worth nothing. I am not saying that other people should make this judgement but the person himself.
The round up of questions at the end. William Crawley enquires why not non-voluntary euthanasia?