Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Spain will become the sixth country worldwide to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 15 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n147

Rapid Response:

Re: Spain will become the sixth country worldwide to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide

Dear Editor

To legalise assisted death (no matter what countries promote euthanasia and assisted suicide) flies in the face of medicine as taught and practised since its beginning. To misrepresent compassion and mercy by ending a life is a complete lie. Medicine's Hypocratic Oath states "First do no harm." People in distress (and even not in distress) don't want to be killed - they want help to go on living because this is the natural basic human desire. Care, understanding and support, and sometimes just a listening ear, may be all that is required to rekindle the will to live in a distressed person.

The ones seeking assisted suicide are not the aged or infirm or disabled, but the vocal and able-bodied and powerful. Are people with birth defects and feeble elderly and disabled people less than rugby players or golfers or housewives (to pick a few healthy examples)? Why not assist the suicide of these healthy types? It is absolutely unjust, a travesty of all that is good in society and medicine to be eliminating the infirm and disabled and sick, simply because they are a burden, have high medical needs and costs, and are not strong enough to defend themselves.

What other section of society is singled out for elimination? The trending of assisted suicide and euthanasia is an organised secularist movement akin to ethnic cleansing. In this case the undesirable ethnic are all whose suffering disturbs others, the disabled, the feeble and frail, and those who are isolated, lonely and "socially dead." These are the most needy and vulnerable in our society and it is unjust, uncharitable and racist to pick on the most vulnerable people at a most vulnerable time in their lives when care and compassion is what they need - not a lethal injection. To cleanse society of suffering and promote self determination and autonomy as the philosophy of life undermines the social contract and hope and trust.

Thank you

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 January 2021
Eugene Breen
Psychiatrist, Associate Clinical Professor
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Dublin, University College Dublin