International

United Kingdom looks to reduce prosecutions of ‘mercy killings’

abortion, UK, United Kingdom, assisted suicide

The United Kingdom is considering a proposal that would reduce the chance that a person responsible for the “mercy killing” of another would be prosecuted.

The change being considered is part of a proposal the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has issued for public consultation. According to The Times, in cases where a person is “wholly motivated by compassion” in the killing of another, they will be less likely to be charged with a crime. It would also apply to someone who survives a suicide pact, but the other person dies. Senior prosecutors who are advocating for the change point out that the proposed guidance “specifically states that it is not intended to decriminalize murder, manslaughter or attempted murder.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill said:

What we’re saying under the new guidance is that a prosecution may be required, but there are circumstances where actually, even where you have the evidence, you may be able to move away from prosecution – for example, where there is evidence of a settled intention on the part of the victim that their life should come to an end, and that what happens is at the time of their choosing.

It means that in some cases charges will be brought, but in others we will be able to avoid placing a loving husband or a loving wife in court to face criminal charges.’

Dr. Gordon McDonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, an organization dedicated to promoting palliative care in the United Kingdom, spoke out against the proposed change. “At a time when elder abuse and other crimes against vulnerable people are on the rise, most people will not understand why the CPS wants to launch a review specifically designed to weaken the laws that protect them,” he told the Daily Mail. “The current law protects the terminally ill, vulnerable, and disabled people from feeling pressure, real or perceived, to end their lives exactly as we see in the handful of places that have legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

READ: United Kingdom surgeon and professor warns that assisted dying hurts the vulnerable

A statement released with the CPS proposal emphasized that it “does not touch on assisted dying or other similar scenarios which are treated separately in law.” But in reality, mercy killing and assisted suicide are two sides of the same coin. In both instances, life is devalued and viewed as something to easily throw away if things get difficult. In many cases, vulnerable people choose assisted suicide because they believe they are a burden to others. If this mercy killing change takes effect, more people will either choose death or be murdered because they are considered a burden.

This isn’t the first instance in which a legal entity has hinted that it will be more lenient towards the idea of compassionate killing. In November, a New Zealand woman was spared a mandatory life sentence in jail after a judge ruled that the woman’s murder of her disabled daughter was “a mercy killing.”

According to The Times, this proposed guidance change is expected to take effect later this year.

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