Physician-assisted suicide debate re-runs may be an abuse of democracy

The Scottish parliament’s 82-36 vote against the introduction of physician-assisted suicide won’t end Britain’s assisted dying debate, any more than did Holyrood’s previous 85-16 vote against it in 2010, or a succession of failed legislative attempts in Westminster and the Welsh assembly.

Responding on Twitter to plans for further attempts to legalise assisted suicide, the Scottish author of asked: “At what point does this constant rerun of assisted dying legislation become an abuse of democratic processes?”

On his blog he responds to claims that his antipathy to, for instance, legalising physician-assisted suicide is due to him lacking experiences which lead him to question Church teaching.

“I can’t help thinking that it’s not that I haven’t experienced this,” he says, “but rather that my experience (of the way dying gets in the way of normal life, of how it generates feelings of helplessness uncomfortable to the modern mind) rather reinforced in me an opposition to euthanasia: it strikes me even more as something that springs from a vice, from a threat to our buffered autonomous selves that ought to be welcomed rather than pushed away with the apparatus of state-licensed killing.”


Without God, life’s value is a delusion

At ‘Comment is Free’ at, Andrew Brown challenges Stephen Hawking’s insistence that he would consider seeking help to end his life if he felt he could no longer make a contribution to the world.

Pointing out that this is a high utilitarian bar to justify our continued living, Brown says: “Not many of us are much use to the world as a whole; almost everyone has a job in which they could be replaced without too much strain and that may nowadays disappear without warning.”

The very idea of value requires a valuer, he says, and for those like him who doubt the reality of God, “the idea that life has an intrinsic value seems both essential to a civilised society and an absurd delusion”.

The problem with this, he admits, is that “without God, as Nietzsche saw, people who have no earthly uses are no earthly use – and even the quickest glance through the headlines will show you this is the way the world goes”.

In the end, he ventures, “at the risk of sounding like a French philosopher of the 1950s, one is led to the conclusion that we shouldn’t be worrying about assisted dying, but about assisting each other to stay alive.

“This isn’t a matter of exhortations, or of high-mindedness but of simple practical gestures and quotidian emotional support.

“Just possibly Auden was entirely realistic when claimed that we must love one another or die.”


Challenge to consider our faith

Elizabeth Scalia at ‘The Anchoress’ on has been grappling with the recent Pew report finding that the total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by three million since 2007 with more than six Catholics leaving the Church for every individual who joined it; nearly 13% of all Americans describe themselves as “former Catholics”.

Responding to Tod Worner and Gregory Popcak’s Patheos pieces at ‘A Catholic Thinker’ and ‘Faith on the Couch’, explaining why neither would be leaving the Church, Ms Scalia invites others to do likewise.

“How about,” she asks, “if Catholic writers from all over the internet — bloggers, reporters, poets, aggregators, newshounds, journal editors, politicians, new-media-storming priests and nuns, Catholics in secular positions — what if they all were to take a few minutes to jot down ‘Why I Remain A Catholic’ and post it where they can, on websites or social media?”

Answers have been flowing in. For some the answer lies in their own imperfection and the Church’s refusal to write people off, for others in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and for others still it’s simply a case of following Peter in ac