Former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt wants assisted suicide journeys to Dignitas legalised

“Patricia Hewitt, the former Health Secretary, and Kevin Barron, the chairman of the influential health select committee, are among the politicians calling for an end to the threat of jail for those who help family or friends travel to voluntary euthanasia clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.”

So begins this Daily Telegraph article on assisted suicide. Some people, especially those with religious affiliations, might argue that no human being should be allowed to commit suicide and that anyone who assists a suicide, including anyone who travels to somewhere Switzerland to seek help from an organization like Dignitas, should be prosecuted on their return.

This morning I watched an interview between a BBC News presenter and Patricia Hewitt. The presenter asked a very pertinent question: Should someone who is terminally ill and who felt altruistically obliged to commit suicide in a time of recession should be allowed to use that reason?

Now, if you consider Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection there is a positive evolutionary reason why a decision to commit suicide during a recession would make sense. An organism, and like it or not humans are organisms, which is a financial burden to its offspring has every reason to remove themselves from the family. They are unlikely to sire more children and those children they have already will stand a better chance of survival if they do not have to cope with unproductive baggage. By unproductive baggage I do not mean a parent who is retired or unemployed but a parent who is, say, no longer able to contribute to the family by looking after grandchildren while the parents are at work, or unable to offer advice to assist their offspring cope with the apparently insolvable problems life throws at a family. In Darwinian terms, a terminally ill person’s genes stand a better chance of being passed on if they die when times are hardest.

This point of view may seem harsh and cruel but it is logical. There are plenty of examples in the animal world where such decisions would be made by the group to which the seriously ill animal belonged. In the case of humans, who have evolved large brains, can think logically and decide for themselves what they wish to do, the most important clause of any assisted suicide legislation must be that a terminally ill person must make the decision for themselves. Others must not be allowed to make the decision for them.

Before assisted suicide becomes legal, therefore, there must be included in the legislation checks and balances, preferable made by doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists and social workers, to ensure that the person deciding to commit suicide is making that decision themselves and is not being coerced by family members or others. It must be an purely altruistic decision on the part of the person requesting assisted suicide.

Former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt wants assisted suicide journeys to Dignitas legalised – Telegraph

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