Compromising on assisted suicide: is 'turning a blind eye' ethical?

Clinical Ethics 7 (1):17-23 (2012)
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Following the decision of the House of Lords in Purdy, the Director of Public Prosecutions was required to promulgate guidance as to how prosecutorial discretion is exercised over the decision of whether to prosecute or not under the Suicide Act 1961. The resulting policy essentially confirms that if a lay person, who is motivated wholly by compassion, provides minor and reluctant assistance to a mentally competent adult, he or she is extremely unlikely to be prosecuted. Consequently, prosecutorial policy over cases of complicity in suicide might be viewed as presenting a procedural compromise between explicitly allowing and robustly prohibiting assisted suicide. This paper explores the legal and ethical implications of compromising over complicity in suicide



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