It's impossible to define terminal illness
Not true. Many definitions of terminal illness already exist, including one from the Department of Work and Pensions which says a person is terminally ill if they have a progressive disease and are not expected to live for more than six months.
Isn’t good end-of-life care enough?
Unfortunately not. The UK was recently ranked first in the world for end-of-life care but even the best end-of-life care cannot alleviate the suffering of all dying adults, a fact acknowledged by Macmillan Cancer Relief, the National Council for Palliative Care and the British Medical Association. For some, there will always be a desire for assisted dying.
Wouldn’t assisted dying lead to a slippery slope?
No. Assisted dying has been in place in the US state Oregon since 1997, with no calls to extend it beyond terminally ill, mentally competent adults. Furthermore, the 2007 British Social Attitudes Survey from the UK found support for legislation drops to around 40% when extended to include a broader group than just terminally ill adults. This suggests any extension of future legislation would not be supported by members of the public.
Wouldn’t assisted dying harm end-of-life care?
No. Since legalised assistance to die has been introduced in Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands, there have been many improvements in end-of-life care. This includes increased funding, improvements in specialist palliative care knowledge and better end-of-life care discussions between doctors and patients.
Doesn’t assisted dying harm the doctor-patient relationship?
No. In countries where assistance to die is legal doctors are significantly more likely to say they have discussed end-of-life decisions with relatives and patients than in countries where assisted dying is not legal practice. Other research shows that doctors’ skills, knowledge, and communication with dying patients has greatly improved since the introduction of legislation in Oregon and the Netherlands.
A matter of facts
Download our free publication, A matter of facts, for references to all these facts on the case for assisted dying, and to read more on research and evidence from both the UK and overseas.