Wrong on right to die

October 14, 2005

I must object to the headline "Right-to-die advocate keen to lead ethics discourse" and to the introduction of an article based on an interview with me (October 7). The description of me as a "right-to-die advocate" does not reflect my position on euthanasia at all.

I can understand the situation doctors may face caring for dying patients and that euthanasia may be a way of dying with dignity, but I believe that such a situation does not justify a "right to die". My view is that patients never have a right to be assisted to die by their doctor.

A right would suggest that the doctor has a duty to assist; doctors can never be forced to commit an act that goes against their own moral standards or is forbidden by law.

The debate on euthanasia will not be helped by misleadingly simplistic headlines. A balanced approach is the best way to come to an agreement.

Ruud ter Meulen
Bristol University

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