Friday, September 19, 2008

Die (Not So) Hard

Right-to-Lifers may be heading for a collision with a new Duty-to-Die movement advocated by Britain's leading moral philosopher, who foresees "licensing people to put others down."

In an interview with the Church of Scotland magazine Life and Work, Mary Warnock suggests that dementia sufferers should consider ending their lives because of the strain they put on their families and public services.

In addition to euthanasia for those in pain, Lady Warnock believes that "if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty to Die?' for a Norwegian periodical...If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die."

As someone with a month' seniority to the 84-year-old Baroness, I feel duty-bound to point out a tiny flaw in her plan: Your dementia may turn out to be my crankiness, which is hardly a capital crime, and I can't think of an "advocate" I would authorize to make that distinction.

Lady Warnock's piquant proposal follows results of a recent survey in which one out of three British doctors called for National Health Service treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.

Anglophiles planning to spend their declining years in London and thereabouts should start rethinking their retirement plans in favor of an Arctic ice floe.

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