The Jack Kevorkian travesty during the 1990s was a debacle–both ethically and to the rule of law. Here, briefly, is what happened: When juries refused to convict Kevorkian, a candidate for Oakland County (MI) prosecutor promised that if elected, he would not prosecute Kevorkian. He was elected, after which, assisted suicide remained illegal for all Michigan residents–except one. Ironically, this prosecutor put K in jail after he pushed the envelope beyond assisted suicide to active murder.
As mentioned here previously, the public prosecutor in Britain was ordered by the Lords in the Debbie Purdy case to publish the factors that will be considered when deciding whether to prosecute assisted suicide when UK residents take a suicidal person overseas to be made dead. He has now stated he will also do so for domestic assisted suicides. From the story:
New guidelines on assisted suicide will apply to people who help their loved ones die in Britain as well as to those who help them die abroad, the Director of Public Prosecutions has disclosed. Keir Starmer, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, is to clarify whether people should be prosecuted for aiding a suicide following a landmark ruling by the Law Lords last week. It had been assumed that this guidance would affect only cases in which friends or relatives helped people to die abroad, such as at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich.
However, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Starmer said the “broad principles” of his new guidelines would apply equally to acts of assisted suicide planned and carried out at home. He denied that any new interpretation of the law would lead to a large increase in assisted suicides, as was suggested by campaigners opposed to the legalisation of the practice.
Of course, it all depends on the criteria that are published. For example, if the prosecutor makes clear that active participation by others in other’s suicides will be prosecuted regardless of whether the dead person was ill or disabled, that will be one thing. But if the prosecutor promises not to enforce the law in certain circumstances, say, allowing relatives to help off despairing seriously ill or disabled loved ones kill themselves–the UK will have opened the door to rank Kevorkianism. That will not only result in preventable deaths, but will have a profoundly deleterious impact on the culture and the rule of law.