On April 6, Bioethicist Peter Singer published an article called ‘Extending The Right To Die‘ on the online news site “Project Syndicate”.
Opening with, “The right to assistance in dying continues to gain ground,” the article covers recent legislation in both Spain and Portugal. The Spanish law, which will come into effect in June, legalizing aid in dying and allows for both self-administration and doctor-administration. The Portuguese law, which also allows doctor-administration (“voluntary euthanasia”) was rejected as insufficiently precise by the Constitutional Court, but a revised version is expected to pass Parliament and become law in 2021.
Professor Singer moves on to a discussion of events in Canada, where in March the Canadian parliament extended the right to aid in dying to patients with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” even though natural death is not “reasonably foreseeable.” Canada’s 2016 legislation also required a review of the law after five years, which will consider “whether advance requests should be permitted (for example, by someone in the early stages of dementia who is still capable of enjoying life but does not want to live beyond the point when that capacity has been lost.) The other issue the review will consider is whether assistance in dying should be available to someone whose intolerable and irremediable suffering is caused by mental illness.
“There can be little doubt that some mentally ill people are not helped by treatment and do suffer greatly. It is hard to see why, if suffering from an incurable but non-terminal physical illness suffices for assistance in dying, suffering that is as bad or worse from incurable mental illness should not also be sufficient. Moreover, for people who are suffering from untreatable depression or other mental illnesses that do not respond to treatment, merely being judged eligible for euthanasia can in itself make life more bearable.”
Read the full article: Extending the Right to Die by Peter Singer – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)