Guidelines are not enough….
The Director for Public Prosecutions has published guidelines to help relatives of the terminally ill know if they will face prosecution. It’s worth saying that since they are guidelines they are not legally binding and therefore in that regard at least are little reassurance to anybody. Hence Keir Starmer, the DPP, says;
”There are no guarantees against prosecution and it is my job to ensure that the most vulnerable people are protected while at the same time giving enough information to those people like Mrs (Debbie) Purdy who want to be able to make informed decisions about what actions they may choose to take.”
Accept that they do nothing of the kind because all they do is list the criteria under which people would have been prosecuted; which they would have been before, and which they will not, which they also wouldn’t have been before. So, in other words they actually change the sum total of nothing and the scare stories the like of which can be seen in today’s Independent about ‘Swiss-style’ euthanasia clinics are obviously nonsense. It occasionally seems to be peculiarly British the notion that law is best when it is unwritten (witness our constitution) and these guidelines are another oddity that proves that; if you say there are circumstances under which those assisting relatives to die will not be prosecuted then it would seem to me that there are circumstances in which it is therefore actually legal.
Of course, perish the thought this should actually be explicitly said because if it was the world might implode (and people might actually know legally where they stood). It seems to me that in this instance guidelines are nowhere near enough; that the best way to allow people to make informed decisions and also protect vulnerable people is not guidelines but the codification of them into a clear legal framework. If that means that euthanasia has to be legalised then so be it…