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The Economist of 8 November has a long article surveying the benefits and problems of medical assisted dying worldwide.

Death on demand
In the West, assisted dying is rapidly becoming legal and accepted

It is raising hard questions and changing how people think about death

Extract :

Change has been rapid. Assisted dying is now legal or decriminalised in at least a dozen countries, with legislation or court challenges pending in many others. On November 5th Portugal’s parliament approved a revised bill which would allow those with “grave, incurable and irreversible” conditions to receive help to end their lives (the constitutional court had in March blocked an earlier version as being too imprecise).

Other largely Catholic countries such as Chile, Ireland, Italy and Uruguay are also moving towards enshrining a right to die. In Belgium, Colombia and the Netherlands governments have broadened assisted dying laws to include terminally ill children.

After years of struggle, activists and politicians have found ways through or around reluctant legislators. The right to die has been ticked through American ballot boxes, squeezed through Australian legislatures, and gavelled through Canadian and European courts. Proponents are using public consultations, campaigns and petitions to demonstrate public support. And growing evidence from countries with assisted-dying laws has undermined fears it will become easy to “kill granny”. The changes are snowballing as advocates in one country learn from their counterparts elsewhere.

Assisted dying remains uncommon. Most cases are cancer-related, and the number of deaths is tiny. But they are nonetheless changing how people think about dying. In some countries assisted dying has been extended to those with mental disorders and dementia, and even to old people who feel tired of life. A clandestine network of baby-boomers who share methods to kill themselves has sprung up on the internet. Even some proponents are beginning to worry about a slippery slope.  (end extract)

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