BY A STAFF REPORTER
LEGAL recognition of voluntary euthanasia LEGAL be followed by pressure to extend its scope to deformed persons, imbeciles and eventually to the old and anyone who -could be shown to constitute a burden to society, said Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas, M.P. for Chelmsford, this week.
He was addressing a Press conference as chairman of the Human Rights Society, which was formed to protect the rights of the individual as spelt out in the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.
'"I hat the point is far from academic," he said, "is shown by the increasing number of letters from sympathisers of comnulsory euthanasia we see published in newspapers."
It was also shown by statements from such people as Dr. Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the chemical of heredity (D.N.A.) and a Nobel prize winner), 'suggesting the possibility that "under a new ethical system based on modern science" a child might not be legally alive until it was two days old, as well as suggesting the possibility of compulsory death at SO.
DIAGNOSIS AND DUTY
Dr. Trevor Howell, consultant geriatrician at St. John's Hospital, Battersea, London, said the Bill raised two special medical problems: the question of correct diagnosis and the doctor's duty to his patient.
If he could not cure the patient, his next duty was to make the patient as comfortable and happy as possible.
This meant that a patient must get the right sort of care. One had also to look after the relatives. At some stage in terminal illness the patient could become mentally disturbed. and this had to be alleviated. The actual pain could be controlled and even anticipated.
A Croydon general practitioner, Dr. Margaret White, said that while at medical school she had got the message that doctors were healers, as had 99 per cent of the profession apart from the minority who were managing to earn £250,000 a year since the Abortion Act.
It was, anyway, totally unnecessary these days for people to suffer pain. This was why Britain had fought successfully in the World Health Organisation to retain heroin, which was such a wonderful pain killer.
Her main fear was that we would. by allowing voluntary euthanasia, be on the slippery slope to 1984 and feared for the safety of mentally defectives, particularly those who could be classified as "cabbages." Society could he best judged by the way it treated its old and dying.
If such a trend continued, she asked, who would he next — the gypsies and the Jews?
Mr. St. John-Stevas said a case that was superficially humane could be made out for the proposed measure, which was why the Human Rights Society wanted informed discussion on the matter so that people would realise that it was far more complicated than it appeared.
Tie said the Euthanasia Society of America had admitted that voluntary euthanasia was all that the public there would he prepared to take for the moment.
Mr. St. John-Stevas felt that the euthanasia supporters had put the Bill forward in the wake of the successful abortion reform campaign and also because they might expect the next parliament to have a different complexion. They were taking the chance while it was there.