Britain... New Euthanasia Guidelines Unveiled

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 10:37pm.

Britain's director of public prosecutions (DPP) has released a new framework on how assisted suicide cases should be tried... The catalyst for the policy review was the case of 46-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy.

The House of Lords agreed Ms Purdy deserved to know under which circumstances her husband could be prosecuted if he went with her to Switzerland to end her life.

Now the DPP has released the factors that will weigh in favour of, or against, prosecution in assisted suicide cases in England and Wales.

The new guidelines list 16 reasons for prosecuting and six reasons for not prosecuting.

One of the factors that could justify a prosecution was a situation in which the person who assisted a suicide stood to gain financially from the death.

Among the factors against prosecuting were evidence that the suspect had sought to dissuade their loved one from suicide, and that the terminally ill person had "reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide".

"They differentiate between malicious intent and compassionate support," Ms Purdy said.

DPP Keir Starmer, QC, says the focus is on the person assisting the death rather than the person dying.

"For example, whether the suspect was wholly motivated by compassion becomes a really central feature of the policy," he said.

Pro-life groups hope the guidelines will weaken the calls for a law change on the matter, but Ms Purdy says they highlight that legislative change is long overdue.

Her case is one of several in recent years that have prompted an ethical debate on assisted suicide, which under British law is punishable by 14 years in jail.

Advocates of the right to die say it is inhumane to go after people for helping a loved one die with dignity.

Critics say tolerating assisted suicide could lead to vulnerable people being bullied into suicide by self-interested relatives.

Rachael Brown - February 26, 2010 - source

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 10:37pm.