Wednesday, 6 May 2009


There was an ironic, bizarre even, juxtaposition of news items yesterday. There was Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, publishing the names of 16 of the 22 people she's banned from entry into the UK. 'I believe in free speech. I want to defend that, but I don't think that free speech should be a licence to preach or to promote hatred, or to exhort other people to carry out criminal acts,' she said. At the same time we heard that the Australian campaigner for voluntary euthanasia, Dr Nitschke, had been questioned at immigration but ultimately allowed to enter for a series of meetings. Presumably the authorities were checking with the Home Office whether euthanasia or assisting suicide are criminal acts. Last time I heard they were. Seems to be a case of double standards, I'm afraid.

However, I'm not opposed to the debate about euthanasia. It's clearly a hot topic. There is a campaign to legalise it, allied to a movement to legalise assisted suicide for the terminally ill. It seems reasonable to say, 'It's my life, and my choice when to end it.' I spent yesterday talking about it with three severely disabled women in Southwark. All of us were agreed that legalising it would be dangerous and undesirable. Before long you should see the outcome of the day on a DVD from Care Not Killing. They've already made one with doctors talking, which I think people ought to watch before deciding the issue. And I hope that the campaign will fail. Instead let's improve palliative care, caring for the dying.

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