Thursday, 8 November 2012

The majority does not rule

A Bangor University study on assisted suicide reveals that two-thirds of people accept it. Apparently  62,000 people were included, which I first thought was quite a lot. However, it turns out that this was an international survey, and so actually this isn't a very large proportion. "Accept" is also a rather ambiguous word, which makes me wonder what people were actually asked. Careful reading shows that this study was in fact a literature review which brought together the results of studies already carried out. Hmmmmm.

Something which strikes me as interesting is the fact that this report states that a recent review shows that doctors consistently resist assisted suicide. Let's leave off the pity plea and be realistic: "assisted suicide" is an attempt at making "euthanasia" sound better. And the reason doctors are resisting it is hardly surprising, since they are the ones who would be assisting. A person might want to die, their relative might think that they should be allowed to, but if you are the one writing the prescription or supplying the drugs then you are not assisting, you are enabling.

Researchers apparently also said that 'headlines tended to feature professional arguments against celebrity campaigners, with ordinary people "less clearly represented".' When they speak of professional arguments, do they mean that they come from professional arguers (eg. Chris Moyles...I don't know his views on euthanasia but I'm prepared to bet he'd have an arguement about it, Richard Dawkins, possibly one of the most argumentative men on the planet, or anyone's youngest brother providing the person they are arguing with is an older sibling), or medical professionals. Because if it is the latter than surely this puts 'celebrity campaigners' on a level with 'ordinary people'. As Blessed John Henry Newman said:
All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability... It is a homage resulting from a profound faith... that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second... Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world -- it may be called 'newspaper fame' -- has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration.
One commentator said, 'The medical profession needs to recognise and have respect for this majority view even if we don't agree with it.' And a palliative care expert (who I suspect may have been quoted somewhat out of context, on the basis that palliative care is all about not walking away) said that doctors must 'never walk away from patients'. All this makes me want to label the article with a big flashing sign saying !RELATIVISM ALERT! Combining these two comments makes it sound as if doctors are neglecting their duties by not allowing the majority (otherwise known as 0.0006% of the world's population) to dictate how they do their jobs. Even if 99% of the world's population were in favour of euthanasia, it wouldn't change the fact that helping your patient to die with dignity has a lot to do with helping your patient to live with dignity and nothing to do with ending their life prematurely. It also would not affect the intrinsic wrong of killing. So-called "assisted suicide" is the final step in the wrong understanding and use of freedom. Funnily enough it's the same as the first step (when Eve took the apple): I am free and therefore I have the right to I choose death. I refuse to accept my limitations that I am a creature and am finite. I reject God. I want to be God without God.

1 comment:

Comments will almost certainly be published, but it would be nice if they included things like capital letters and full stops, and didn't include text speak.