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Making Medical Killing Legal

Monday, 16 January 2012 - 12:00am

Earlier this month, Lord Falconer's Commission for Assisted Dying released a 400-page report advocating the legalization of assisted suicide in a narrow range of situations.  The report was commissioned by the campaign group Dignity in Dying. It describes the current law on assisted dying as "inadequate and incoherent" and offers a legal framework that would permit only those who had been diagnosed with less than a year to live to seek an assisted suicide, and then only if they met strict eligibility criteria. In the latest Parliamentary Brief, John Perry defends the law as it currently stands. He concludes:

The present system preserves both the integrity of the medical profession and the general prohibition of killing, but at the same time makes room for rare exceptions via the prosecutor's discretion. That's messy, imperfect—and probably just about right.

The Falconer Report was funded by the author Terry Pratchett. In the latest issue of Triple Helix, Dr Richard Hain offers this thoughtful review of Pratchett's much-discussed BBC documentary, Choosing to Die.