Both euthanasia and assisted dying are illegal under English law. Though, non-profit organisations are trying to change the current situation. The Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill had its reading in the House of Lords on 18th July and is one step closer to being accepted making assisted dying a highly debatable and urgent topic in the UK.
It is important to mention that assisted dying is not the same as euthanasia. Euthanasia is a word of Greek origins and literally means ‘a good death’. Euthanasia is when a doctor administers a lethal drug and assisted dying is when the doctor gives the patient the means to end their own life but does not administer drugs or offer assistance. As of 2014 euthanasia is only legal in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, while assisted dying is a more widespread practice with it being legalised in such countries as Switzerland, Germany and Albania.
Assisted dying would allow terminally ill people to choose to die without further suffering, as in many cases a lot of diseases and health conditions can cause a lot of suffering not only to the individual, but to his relatives and carers as well. Right now in the UK assisted dying, which is also known as assisted suicide, is illegal under the terms of the Suicide Act (1961) and is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Though, it is important to note that attempting to commit a suicide is not a criminal act in itself.
Terminally ill people do choose suicide themselves, but usually they do not have the right means to do it and occasionally end up in even greater suffering without having achieved their goal. If the Assisted Dying Bill is ratified, people would finally be able to choose to finish their suffering without pain. In a situation like this, a doctor would not be committing a murder or killing anyone, as it is entirely the choice of the patient to end their life.
The Assisted Dying Bill should soon receive its third reading and it is slowly moving towards being accepted, allowing many who are suffering, to keep their dignity on their death bed. There are certain situations where there is no hope left for recovery and the kindest thing to be allowed to happen is to stop the suffering by offering an individual an end to their pain for good.