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Our first duty if to the weak – The Guardian

Jane Nicklinson, is the wife of the 56-year-old Tony Nicklinson, who is “locked-in” to a terribly paralysed body as a consequence of a stroke. He wants her to help him to die; and she had this to say on BBC Radio’s PM programme last week: “People will say, you know, we’ve got to protect the vulnerable blah blah blah, but protecting the vulnerable is at his expense.”

We must cut Mrs Nicklinson some slack in her despair at her husband’s terrible condition: perhaps we shouldn’t take that “blah blah blah” to be quite as contemptuous of “protecting the vulnerable” as it sounds. But it does sound like a clear expression of one of the axioms of the zeitgeist: that that personal will should always trump the collective good. Because the vulnerable, in this context, are the legions of disabled, ill, frail and elderly who would be subordinated into the category of second-class lives that are probably not worth living, once we allowed the practice of killing people, sometimes known as euthanasia or mercy killing, to be legalised.

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George Pitcher

George Pitcher

George Pitcher is a writer and talker, an academic specialising in the purposes of journalism and an Anglican priest. You can read his LSE blog here.

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