Only Clearer Laws Can Bring Compassion to the Euthanasia Debate
Wootton, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)
A NOT guilty verdict in the case of Kay Gilderdale was the right decision. Whilst we don't condone acting outside of the law, and it is important that these kinds of cases are investigated, the judge is now able to use his discretion when sentencing Kay Gilderdale. Given that she pleaded guilty to assisting in a suicide, she will be sentenced under the Suicide Act; therefore, the judge is not forced to impose a mandatory sentence.
As demonstrated here and in the case of Frances Inglis last week, the existing law doesn't work in practice and is not in line with public opinion. Ultimately, we need a full public consultation on whether the law should change, to regulate and legalise assisted dying for terminally ill people and to create a specific or partial defence of "mercy killing" for these offences. The law needs to protect potentially vulnerable people by being tough on malicious or irresponsible behaviour, but it also needs to be flexible enough to show mercy when the motivation is clearly compassion.
There is a clear ethical difference between assisted dying, assisted suicide, euthanasia and murder, yet the law makes little distinction between these acts. …