2015 12 – Letter on Assisted Dying

A Letter to Froggy

Froggy, Labour Affairs, November, 2015 Issue


The piece entitled the Assisted Dying Bill is excellent. I have often wondered what is the best thing for people who are in a terminal state of health. Was assisted dying the answer but after having read the article I am convinced, with its arguments, that assisted dying isn’t the best bet through it maybe creating social problems like sick people thought to be hanging on too long, being too expensive to keep at home or too expensive for the NHS, and for the private hospital insurance companies, and generally being too much of a nuisance.

There is also the past history of the Nazi euthanasia programmes that  came to be used for political reasons. Years ago in a discussion on this subject someone asked a question: `Did we learn anything from the Nazis in their medical experimentations?’ I was totally disgusted at the question even being raised and said so, end of discussion. Now I think the question should be raised again, in other words, has Nazism taken the edge off humanitarianism.

Assisted dying has been on my mind since a Dutch member of my extended family contracted motor-neurone disease and went through the Dutch easy death method in which his own personal GP and another doctor as a witness helped with the procedure. His wife and teenage children seemed comfortable enough with the event. He did decide to go this way at the very end after he lost the power of speech and was afraid of losing all communication with his family. I was quite depressed by what he did. I had known him as a vital man in his forties who loved life and took part in water sports like kayaking, ice skating and swimming. He was one of the Netherland’s leading psychiatrists. His mother died of the same disease but held out to the end. Being a practising Catholic she thought of assisted dying as suicide. Her son, being a non-practising Protestant thought differently. I felt disappointed with what he decided to do.

So, I am grateful for this article by Froggy.

J. Haire.