Focus on the Motives for Assisting Suicide Does Not Open the Door to Euthanasia, Says DPP of New Rules; Prosecution Unlikely of Someone Who Helps a Sick Person Who Wants to Die

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

Focus on the Motives for Assisting Suicide Does Not Open the Door to Euthanasia, Says DPP of New Rules; Prosecution Unlikely of Someone Who Helps a Sick Person Who Wants to Die


Byline: Jack Doyle

THE motives of those assisting suicide will be at the centre of the decision over whether they should be prosecuted, the chief prosecutor in England and Wales said yesterday.

Anyone acting with compassion to help end the life of someone who has decided they cannot go on is unlikely to face criminal charges.

Even families who benefit financially from the death of a relative will not be hauled before the courts if their motives were good.

Outlining the new rules, Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said they would shift the emphasis of inquiry from the victim to the suspect.

Mr Starmer, the chief prosecutor in England and Wales, said each case would be judged on its merits and denied he had legalised assisted suicide or "opened the door to euthanasia".

Anyone who carried out a "mercy killing" would lay themselves open to murder or manslaughter charges, he said.

Mr Starmer said: "The policy is now more focused on the motivation of the suspect rather than the characteristics of the victim.

"The policy does not change the law on assisted suicide.

"It does not open the door for euthanasia.

"It does not override the will of Parliament. What it does do is to provide a clear framework for prosecutors to decide which cases should proceed to court and which should not."

Mr Starmer was forced to issue the guidelines after a Law Lords ruling in favour of Debbie Purdy, who has multiple sclerosis.

She wanted to know whether her husband would be prosecuted for helping her to end her life.

Initial guidance was issued in September and the Crown Prosecution Service invited responses from the public to inform the final version.

The new policy lays out 16 factors that would weigh in favour of a prosecution and six against.

It removes references to the health of the victim. Terminal illness had been a factor weighing in favour of prosecution.

Disability action groups had called for its removal and Mr Starmer said it could have caused discrimination.

The new rules remove references to husbands and wives or close friends being less likely to be prosecuted because of their close relationship to the victim.

Responses to the initial guidance argued that such relationships could be "antagonistic or manipulative" and should not count in a suspect's favour.

The eight pages of guidelines were released yesterday along with a 45-page summary of nearly 5,000 responses.

The vast majority were from individual members of the public but submissions were also received from academics, health workers, politicians and religious groups.

Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but individual decisions on prosecution will be made on the circumstances in each case, Mr Starmer said, as he denied having changed the law.

But publication of the guidance did nothing to quell the fractious debate surrounding the issue.

Ms Purdy and campaigners for a change in the law welcomed the rules but continued to call for Parliament to act.

Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, said the guidelines only addressed the problem after somebody has already died.

"I think we should consider looking to the medical profession to do with care and attention and with understanding and with full explanation of the circumstances, to allow us to die at a time of our choosing," the 61-year-old said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Focus on the Motives for Assisting Suicide Does Not Open the Door to Euthanasia, Says DPP of New Rules; Prosecution Unlikely of Someone Who Helps a Sick Person Who Wants to Die
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.