The term ‘euthanasia’ derives from the Greek language meaning ‘a good death’. Euthanasia is the process in which a person who is suffering from a painful or crippling ailment or disability decides to end their own life, or a persons life being legally ended by another person.
Currently, the laws in the UK make it illegal for a person to assist in allowing a person to commit suicide under the murder Act of 1965 and the Suicide Act 1971. The law states that intentionally ending a persons life, even with their consent, is illegal, as is assisting person to commit suicide. These are both offenses that are seen in the same light as murder.
There have been over the last few years attempts to pass bills through parliament to change the laws around euthanasia within the United Kingdom.
In 2009, Scottish Parliament tried to pass the End of Life Assistance Bill, which was put forward by Parkinson’s disease sufferer, Margo Macdonald MSP. The law would allow those whose lives have become ‘intolerable’ due to a progressive degenerative illness, serious trauma or terminal illness to have the assistance of a doctor to help end their lives. Despite a series of proposed safeguards to be put into to prevent abuse of the system should the law be passed, the Scottish Parliament failed to pass the bill, with 85 votes against to the 16 for passing the bill.
Similarly, in 2006, the Parliament of the UK tried to pass a bill that would allow a person who has less than 6months to live, suffering unbearably and sound mind would be able to end their life. This law was proposed by Lord Joffe who said “We must find a solution to the unbearable suffering of patients whose needs cannot be met by palliative care.” Other member of the House of Lords welcomed the bill with support. Baroness David who stated “If I were terminally ill, I believe I would be the only person with the right to decide how I died” and also said...