The debate over assisted dying has been hitting the headlines again recently. Always a difficult subject to discuss, it often splits opinion.

A survey conducted by Dignity in Dying found 75% of the public in favour of assisted dying.
The present situation, where assisted dying is against the law in the UK, has caused much distress.

Those who can afford it have been forced to go to Dignitas in Switzerland to die but even then, those accompanying the patient can face legal consequences when they return home.
This situation has led to the call for a similar service to be available at home.

Why, those in favour ask, should people suffering from terminal diseases not be allowed to decide when they want to die? Why should they be made to unnecessarily suffer?

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Cllr Paul Donovan looks at both sides of the argument on assisted dyingCllr Paul Donovan looks at both sides of the argument on assisted dying

On the other side, some warn of a slippery slope to euthanasia, just getting rid of people deemed to not be of any use to society anymore or the old and vulnerable, unable to defend their basic right to life.

The euthanasia point is particularly concerning, given the seeming ever-lower value put on human life. Quotes from political leaders about letting the bodies pile high during the Covid pandemic, betray an underlying tendency towards euthanasia. Older people are somehow seen as more expendable.

Then, there is the role of the medical professionals who argue they are there to save, not take, life.

The pressure that can be put on people by relatives and friends, consciously or unconsciously, is another worry.

The debate needs to be had but it is a very difficult one to resolve.

Some sort of restricted form of assisted dying with lots of checks in place may be the way forward. But once on the statute book, these things can be relaxed and broadened over time.
The major concern is over sanctity of life.

No one should be made to go through unnecessary suffering and should be able to choose how they want to die. But nor should people deemed by others to lack value to society be simply disposed of.

It is a very complex question, which it must be hoped is fully debated by Parliament before any binding decisions are made.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (