Wednesday 7 December 2016

Donal O’Mathuna: The suffering need compassion and care – not assisted suicide

Published 11/01/2013 | 17:00

THE High Court ruling that upholds the current ban on assisted suicide is to be welcomed. The judges described Marie Fleming, who challenged the ban, as the most remarkable witness they had ever encountered. I suspect anyone watching Ms Fleming make her case wishes she could find relief from her suffering. While she argued that only assistance in suicide would help, the court concluded that there were important reasons for the current ban to continue.

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The compassionate response might seem to be one that permits assistance in dying when people clearly choose this. But in our desire to be compassionate, we must remember that hard cases make bad law. Sometimes what we want, what we believe we should be free to choose, is still not right. Suicide may not be illegal, but it is still a tragic end to someone's life. Assisted suicide is not right just because someone chooses it freely.

While we may sympathise with Ms Fleming's wishes, what she believes is good for her must we weighed against what is good for society. Assisted suicide is supported by claims that we have an absolute right to autonomy over our bodies. But we don't.

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