Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Euthanasia again

The Times Literary Supplement has a review of Neil M. Gorsuch THE FUTURE OF ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA 320pp. Princeton University Press. £18.95.

The review is entitled Assisted suicide on trial by Raymond Tallis

Sometimes a review is more informative of the reviewer and his beliefs and agenda than the book being reviewed.

Between 2003 and 2005, Tallis was Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine. During this period, the Commitee twice debated a Bill, proposed by Lord Joffe, to legalize assisted suicide in mentally competent terminally ill patients at their persistent request. In the Joffe Bill, the patient would administer the medication herself, thus underlining the autonomous nature of the act

The review provides a history of the Joffe Bill, why it did not succeed and why the Joffe Bill is likely to be introduced again.

Chiilingly, Tallis writes: "The story, however, is not yet over. The Joffe Bill will probably be reintroduced in 2007"

Tallis` viewpoint can be assessed from the following paragraph of his review:

"In this respect, [ Gorsuch’s ] argument is chillingly reminiscent of religious doctrines of “the sanctity of life”, which seem to coexist very happily with authorized indifference to avoidable death. The recklessness of the Roman Catholic Church with the lives of millions of believers, by vetoing condoms, and in some cases actually lying about their effectiveness, thus sacrificing human life on the altar of doctrinal purity, is about as grotesque an example of instrumentalism as one could imagine. The contrast between the forthright condemnation of the Assisted Dying Bill by Rowan Williams and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, and the timid equivocations in their joint letter on the eve of the Iraq war, which has killed 600,000 people who most certainly wanted to live, is illuminating. And the wisdom of the “Angelic Doctor” St Thomas Aquinas is still invoked by that substantial minority of Catholic thinkers who regret their Church’s recent and belated opposition to the death penalty."

Be warned.