Physician-assisted Suicide: Some Reasons for Rejecting Lord Falconer’s Bill

Filed in Ethics by on August 12, 2014 3 Comments


I have just written a report about the Assisted Dying Bill which is available to read and download here at the Care Not Killing website. The title of the report is Physician-assisted Suicide: Some Reasons for Rejecting Lord Falconer’s Bill. 

Here is the summary:

In sum, the Falconer Bill:

(i) undermines a fundamental and historic legal and ethical principle: respect for the equal worth of all patients.

(ii) is a ‘foot in the door’. The main ethical arguments which will be used to support it, misguided understandings of ‘autonomy’ and ‘beneficence’, are equally arguments for euthanasia for the competent, and for the incompetent, and, in either case, whether ‘terminally ill’ or not.

(iii) evades a vital question: ‘Precisely how will it ensure what relaxed laws in other jurisdictions have conspicuously failed to ensure: effective control of PAS, not least to protect those who do not want to die and those for whom there are alternatives?’

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John Keown

About the Author ()

John Keown is Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Having graduated in law from Cambridge, he took a doctorate at Oxford. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales, winning the Prize for Advocacy. He soon became the first holder of a newly-created lectureship in the law and ethics of medicine at Cambridge, where he was elected to a Fellowship at Queens' College and, later, a Senior Research Fellowship at Churchill College. Professor Keown's research has been cited by distinguished bodies worldwide, including the United States Supreme Court, the Law Lords, the House of Commons, the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, and the Australian Senate, before which he was invited to testify. He has served as a member of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association and has been regularly consulted, not least by politicians and the media, on legal and ethical aspects of medicine. He has also developed an interest in the ethics of war. His paper in the Journal of Catholic Social Thought was the first to consider whether America's War for Independence satisfied the criteria laid down by the 'just war' tradition. He has also written a play based on one of the classic cases in bioethics: the trial of Dr. Leonard Arthur for the attempted murder of a newborn baby with Down's syndrome. Professor Keown has published widely in the law and ethics of medicine, specializing on issues at the beginning and end of life.

Comments (3)

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  1. Thank goodness for common sense! Professor Keown has put the feelings of many into words, and coming from an eminent person such as he is, let us hope and pray that they are listened to.
    Surely, none of us want to live in a world where the disabled, mentally ill or even those who just appear different are legally killed? This is what I fear could be an indirect result of this proposed legislation (cf point2 of Keown’s summary)

    • mik says:

      the debate isnt about the disabled the debate is about the right to die~! what gives you the right to tell me my life is good~! when you have never been in my shoes?

  2. mik says:

    but yet we have laws for the right to live not for the right to die?

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