02:06am Thursday 23 January 2020

'Assisted suicide should not be legalised'

Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, written by Dr Kevin Yuill, Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sunderland, details the arguments for and against legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

It comes as Westminster is to debate whether to legalise assisted suicide under proposals by Lord Falconer. The book warns governments should not define some citizens’ lives as burdens, or not worth living. “Why would we say that we will assist those with terminal illnesses who have suicidal wishes and not others?” Dr Yuill asks.

Yuill differs with many others who oppose assisted suicide in that he says some suicides can be noble acts of self-sacrifice. However, Dr Yuill added: “Most suicides are overwhelmingly bad events and even humanists should not be afraid to regard them as wrong. Assisted suicide puts the Government in the business of judging which are right and which are wrong before they take place.”

The book also differs from many other anti-assisted suicide accounts in that it argues that abortion should be legal and safe. Whereas access to abortion is important for women’s freedom, suicide is something that every determined person can accomplish for themselves, the book argues.

Dr Yuill said: “Women are more autonomous for having this choice, whereas no one is freer by allowing others to help them die. Suicide is an issue that can only be decided in the dark recesses of the mind.

“To be or not to be is the subject of a soliloquy, not a committee meeting or legislation.”

The book presents an up-to-date analysis of arguments for and against assisted suicide that has been a topic of debate across the UK in recent years. Last year Tony Nicklinson lost his case against assisted suicide before passing away after refusing food. Coronation Street has also highlighted the current legislation with the character Hayley Cropper committing suicide after a battle with cancer.

The book is sure to gain the attention not just of those who already agree but of Yuill’s intended audience – humanist and secularist liberals.

The book, Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation by Dr Kevin Yuill is now available to buy: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Assisted-Suicide-Liberal-Humanist-Legalization/dp/1137286296

University of Sunderland

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