Mick Hume: Forget a new euthanasia law

Shockingly, even today, it appears that the British courts can get it right. Their record in dealing with “mercy killings” provides evidence that we do not need the blunt instrument of a new law legalising euthanasia/assisted suicide.

Robert Cook, 60, suffocated his wife of 29 years with a plastic bag after she took an overdose. Vanessa Cook had worsening multiple sclerosis and had written of her wish to die. On Friday her husband received a 12-month suspended sentence, after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility. The judge called it an exceptional case. Last November Stephen Jobling, 52, was also given a 12-month suspended sentence after a bungled suicide pact with his ailing 72-year-old wife. Both survived taking a drug overdose.

Not all “mercy killings” are seen in the same way. Last May a jury found Frank Lund, 52, guilty of murder for smothering his wife. Patricia Lund, 62, suffered from depression and irritable bowel syndrome, but was not terminally ill. The judge called the case “highly unusual, if not unique” and imposed a tariff of only three years.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Theology

3 comments on “Mick Hume: Forget a new euthanasia law

  1. Wilfred says:

    Evidently murder isn’t a very serious crime in Britain.

  2. MargaretG says:

    Actually Wilfred the article suggests that murder is still regarded as very serious in Britain, but when it comes to trial (as all these cases have) the full circumstances have been taken into account. There are times when murder is not regarded as the ultimate evil — self-defense has always been one, and diminished responsibility has been another. There is nothing new in the way the law has been applied.

    What is new is the number of people with serious chronic illness in the community (including but not only mental illness) and the comparative lack of community support for the caregivers. We had a case a few years ago of a mother who killed her autistic daughter. At the trial it came out that this daughter (who was in her mid-teens) was so destructive and uncontrollable that the institution that she was supposed to be cared for in had expelled her — to return to her mother and father who not only didn’t have the training and the facilities to care for her, but who had two younger children whose life were at risk. The mother pleaded for help from every conceivable agency and source for months before cracking and killing the girl.

    Was the mother here the perpetrator or the victim? Our courts decided she was both — and so apportioned the blame accordingly. Interestingly the officials at the institution never faced charges. I think in the past many institutions (including the church) and friends and neighbours, would have been far more willing to lend a hand.

  3. Wilfred says:

    So if you want to kill someone, just make sure she has irritable bowel syndrome, or can be portrayed in an unsympathetic light?

    Pardon me if I remain skeptical about what stories defense lawyers (and their clients) concoct.