top of page

The negotiation of death: end-of-life decision making in England and the Netherlands

“The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.” – Thomas Browne.

Whilst this quote might hold true for most of us, some people would rather die than live in a twilight world of terminal illness with no prospect of recovery. In the UK, assisted dying is currently prohibited under the Suicide Act 1961 and euthanasia is considered murder under English law. This paper sets out to criticise the shortcomings in our present law in relation to end-of-life decision making. From a right-based argument, all people should have a right to die because death is a private matter which brings no harm to others, hence the state should not interfere. Individual autonomy and dignity should be respected if a competent adult expresses a clear wish to die. From a utilitarian point of view, allowing people to die voluntarily may free up scarce health resources to save others who want to live longer. From a philosophical perspective, death might not be a bad thing for terminally ill patients who are suffering tremendously to remain alive. To some extent, the prohibition on assisted suicide reflects a discriminatory attitude toward disabled people who could not commit suicide due to their disability. It is proposed that the UK law should mirror the Dutch law in legalising voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, to respect human rights and individual autonomy, and to encourage a safer and more efficient healthcare delivery.

Read the full article here

bottom of page