In the UK, euthanasia and assisted death is illegal. However, recent landmark cases have highlighted the issues surrounding assisted death and may be shifting public opinion in the direction of greater freedom. Yet it is one of the most challenging and complex debates of our time, with varied viewpoints presenting society with difficult questions, for which there are no easy answers.
Over the past year, the makers of the film Endgame have been on a journey, and at its beginning, meeting people making difficult decisions about their own deaths, and those who have supported their loved ones in choosing to die, which is deeply moving and at times has been difficult to hear. They also travelled to Switzerland with two people for whom assisted dying felt to be their only option.
In a world of idealised autonomy, legislation providing for assisted dying in the UK might, if ethically acceptable, not be risky. But we do not live in that world and there are wider implications to this most complex of issues.
The arguments, both for and against a change in the law are nothing if not complicated, but one thing is for sure, these legal challenges are not going to go away, and more people are taking advantage of Switzerland’s rather coarsely coined ‘suicide tourism.’ Whatever you conclude, however, these most recent legal challenges come nearly 20 years after the issue was first voted on in the House of Commons.