Pros and cons of assisted suicide

LAST UPDATED AT 12:12 ON Wed 23 Sep 2009

THE ARGUMENTS FOR:

Choosing how we die is a basic human freedom. If an individual's quality of life is terrible, they should have the right to stop suffering.
 
As the recent case of disabled rugby player Daniel James showed, hundreds of British people have travelled abroad for an assisted suicide, and the Crown Prosecution Service can't prosecute the people who help them. So our euthanasia laws are, in their present state, unworkable.
 
Since 1961, suicide has been legal. Helping somebody who wants to die in a peaceful, painless way should also be legal.
 
The majority of British people are in favour of legalising euthanasia. A recent YouGov survey revealed that 86 per cent supported it.
 
The safeguards work. Euthanasia clinics are professionally run centres that ensure their patients are making a considered and correct decision.
 
 
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST:

In Oregon, a recent study of people who took their lives with assisted suicide revealed that one in every six were suffering from depression. This should not be allowed to be a factor in a human's choice to die.
 
Life is sacred. Helping to end it is morally unacceptable.
 
Advances in medicine will mean that we can cure diseases and disabilities that were once considered untreatable. So a terminally ill patient may, in the future, have a bearable quality of life.
 
Terminally ill people are vulnerable members of society. Some might feel under psychological pressure to ease the burden on their families.
 
Although assisted suicide is understandable in cases like that of the multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, legalising it risks turning it into a lifestyle choice. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read more about