That 'line in the sand' and how to redraw it.

In a debate in Aberdeen Scotland a few years back I was confronted with a new and extremely restrictive model of euthanasia law proposed by my esteemed opponent that night. 

If my memory serves, the person needed to be in the last week of life and dying from a terminal illness; the argument being something like, 'Oh! Well! A few days earlier won't matter much!' I am paraphrasing here, my opponent was a retired professor and was far more articulate than that. Nevertheless, this was the shorthand thrust of the argument.

I said on the night that I did not doubt the sincerity of my opponent but that we needed to recognise that there were a number of organisations involved in pursing legal change and that many of them had different points of view about where the 'line' should be drawn.

Indeed, I was later told that the mid-row in the auditorium occupied by a sour-faced group whose collective expression failed to change in response to any speaker that night, were members of FATE - Friends At The End who, as far as I can see from their website, take no formal position on where they would draw their line.

As may be. My point was to question whether the audience thought that, were a particular bill successful, whether or not the campaign group would party hard in celebration and then dissolve or whether they would continue on towards other goals.

Strange to say, a newsletter on the FATE website has a story from a member who had been recently elected as head of their world wide affilliation. He relates:

"A successful politician once explained to me that politics is about the act of achieving the possible which in our context probably means one step at a time." And so it is.

I was reminded of all of that recently when a DutchNews story mentioned that the Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (NVVE) was reviving an old idea of theirs of pushing for the availability of a kill pill for elderly Netherlanders. You see, when the Dutch embraced euthanasia this group did not 'pack up and go home'; they kept on beavering away at a continuing agenda.

The article acknowledges that their earlier push for acceptance of this idea in the 1990s was perhaps bedevilled by overreach (my summary) given that they had originally wanted such a pill to be available free of charge to everyone over the age of 70.

DutchNews quotes an NVVE representative who rationalises their new approach:

"Now the NVVE is having a new attempt and this time says the pills should only be issued by pharmacists or family doctors. 'This is important to make sure the drugs cannot be used for suicide, abuse or murder,' the organisation said."

So, having a pharmacist and/or family doctor involved in providing a suicide pill stops a potential suicide? Now there's a huge clanger! The idea is that someone chooses to kill themselves - that is suicide. But what about this claim to stop 'abuse or murder'? How will that be achieved? These people should face reality and simply admit that this is all just spin designed to get what they want - the 'one step at a time' program. Once the pill is dispensed there are no possible 'checks and balances' that could even pretend to protect people from abuse.

Of course, if you don't have any real way of checking and if the main witness is dead who can tell whether Granny took the pill herself or had it forced upon her? Nothing to see here folks! All works perfectly well!