Indeed - Ommmmmmmmmmm!
And back on topic and how Terry is suggesting assisted death (not suicide) can be legalised by slipping in a nice 'safe' bureaucratic layer into the equation in order to de-criminalise it. I worked for the government department that operates Tribunals and they do useful work in a number of fields such as employment law, Land law and a number of other areas including Immigration - which is where things get very murky indeed of course.
This is where I start getting 'iffy' about a Tribunal running something that most definitely comes under the heading 'basic human right'. It could be set up and in theory would solve a lot of the confusion and fear over what does and doesn't constitute an illegal decision to end someone's life and contribute to making that happen. Other countries get around this with things like 'living wills', but even then that's not infallible and there is always the worry about coercion on the individual to make such a binding declaration law-proof, or how to prevent legal/punitive action being taken against those who are charged with ensuring that someone's wishes are respected and carried out.
Historically in the UK people can dispose of their possessions and property once they are dead in their wills as they see fit without too much opposition (in the majority of cases contesting a will is pretty rare). Even if someone doesn't make a will there are still strictly monitored regulations on how their affairs are concluded and divided amongst their family. What I'll be interested in hearing tonight in Terry's Dimbleby lecture is how we can make the leap between what happens to our 'estate' after we die to actually providing for how we die. The main reason I'm concerned about this is that death is not predictable and not everybody's so organised (or so rich) that they'll sit down and make a will or state what they want done to allow them to die if that's necessary. And then there's circumstances where you can't state your views at all - if you're in a coma for instance, or you cannot communicate your wishes in some way.
In the same way, going to a Tribunal (as they currently are) takes time and money and often lawyers - we don't always have the time or the wherewithal, simply in terms of willpower which can be in short supply when you're seriously and/or chronically ill or if you're on life support with little chance of regaining consciousness. And what about mental ilnesses - which are all too often at the root of suicide and wreak havoc for the familes and friends left behind?
A Tribunal process has its attractions as a way of condoning merciful deaths unequivocably, but its also a time-heavy, costly and not too flexible a process that would I fear end up as being a last resort that only the well off or the truly desperate could practically make use of. Getting the law changed is unnegotiable, but the method by which people can be freed from pain and misery should be quick and uncomplicated and not left to unwieldy legalities when a speedy decision is needed. This would also assist in the heart-rending cases where families and health authorities have to take out injunctions to withdraw life support or to end life-preserving surgical/medical procedures - or to keep giving them. At present health professionals literally have their hands tied in life or death circumstances - a change in the law, even a small one, would help make this appalling dilemma much more humane and give the chronically sick and dying a real choice in how they depart this world.
Terry's lecture is about to start - I'm looking forward to what he has to say on this matter more fully. Whatever he says I hope he's listened to sympathetically by the people who can make assisted death happen.