Explore the view that assisted suicide is an act of compassion. Justify your answer. [15]

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Explore the view that assisted suicide is an act of compassion. Justify your answer. [15]

Assisted suicide can be an act of compassion because it relieves immense suffering both for the patient and the family. Thinking that it is purely about pain is naïve, in reality terminally ill patients fear the loss of independence, dignity and function more than pain. Pain can be managed, but other regressive symptoms cannot. When considering this issue, utilitarianists think about quality of life as well as quantity of life. Sometimes assisted dying may be necessary to produce the greatest amount of happiness. There is little to be gained from keeping someone alive when they are dependent on machines to carry out basic functions.

Ultimately suicide is a tragic but conscientious moral choice. For some patients euthanasia will be seen as the ultimate expression of autonomy in that they determine the time and mode of their dying. It may be the only thing left they are able to control. If we have the right to life it follows that we should also have the right to die in our own terms. To force someone to continue living against their will could be considered torture.

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Society’s views are changing regarding assisted suicide, which is demonstrated even by the change in language used. The media now refers to it as assisted dying, or mercy killing. Although it remains illegal in the UK, the public opinion is gradually changing.  Even some Christians believe that it can be a charitable act. Paul Badham, an Anglican priest, wrote a book in favour of assisted suicide for both social and economic reasons. However, the Christian Medical Fellowship dismissed it: “The highly selective and infrequent use of the Bible, the pick 'n' mix theology, the fundamentalist view of human autonomy, ...

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