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Should assisted suicide be legal?

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The One Show Team | 17:26 UK time, Thursday, 11 February 2010

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On tonight's programme Sir Terry Pratchett talked about 'Shaking Hands with Death', his Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

The lecture was delivered by Tony Robinson, on 1st February 2010, as Sir Terry has difficulty with reading because of his early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

The case for

In the lecture, the best-selling author said the "time is really coming" for assisted death to be legalised.

Sir Terry wants to see measures put in place to ensure that anyone seeking to commit suicide was of sound mind and not being influenced by others.

"At the moment if someone assists someone else to commit suicide in this country or elsewhere they become suspect to murder until the police decide otherwise," he told the BBC.

"I think it would be rather better if a person wishes to die, they could go see the tribunal with friends and relatives and present their case - at least if it happens, it happens with, as it were, authority."

The case against

But there's fierce opposition to Sir Terry's proposals.

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Baroness Finlay, an independent peer who is a professor of palliative medicine, said licensing assisted suicide would be a "very dangerous step" because it would remove protection and "suck all sorts of people in".

"Look at what happened in other countries, for instance in Oregon - the number of assisted suicides has gone up fourfold - if that is translated to Britain, we are not talking about a small number, we are talking about a thousand a year," she said.

Baroness Finlay said people had good days and bad days and changed their mind about assisted suicide.

So, should assisted suicide be legal? Join the debate - add your comment, below.


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