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"In a world of idealised wholly autonomous patients, and of wholly selfless and compassionate families and professionals, legislation providing for assisted dying might, if ethically acceptable, not be risky. But we do not live in that world, and I doubt whether we can draft legislation that is safe for human beings with their full variety of situations and dependence on one another"

Autonomy and Assisted Suicide


Baroness Onoroa O'Neill addresses the issue of autonomy and how it relates to calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide

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We reproduce here, with permission from the author, the text of an address given on 30 June 2010 by Professor Baroness O'Neill in a symposium on the ethics of assisted suicide. Professor O'Neill argues that "the central problem for any attempt to legalise assisted suicide is that of drafting legislation which reliably ensures that those who do not seek to die, and in particular do not seek assistance with suicide, are not killed" and argues that "legislation that fails to draw a very clear distinction could endanger those who do not wish to die, and could provide a cover for unlawful killing: for that is what is at stake".

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