Undue influence? Elder Abuse?
If state-assisted dying (assisted suicide or euthanasia) became legal, how will you determine whether someone choosing to end their life has not been subjected to undue influence?
As many as 500,000 older people in the UK are vulnerable to abuse, as estimated by the charity Action on Elder Abuse. “Usually, victims are women over the age of 70 years, who are dependent, frail and alone.”
Actively encouraging or assisting someone to commit suicide is against the law, for good reason. It acts as a deterrent against abuse, which is essential for the safety of society. And yet it is a law which is applied with great discretion, with justice and also with mercy. There are few prosecutions, but it is important that the law is there to be used not only when there is an abuse taking place but also to deter abuse. The law isn’t just about prosecutions. It’s also about deterrence.
Ultimately, one reason we don’t want the law to change is because detecting criminality becomes much harder if assisted suicide becomes legal. We want to protect people from the danger of abuse or the danger of pressure to take their lives prematurely.
We need to improve how we care for people, not kill them.