Mercy killing or murder most foul?

Posted on: 17 February 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Ray Gosling's recent admission of involvement in a mercy killing has reignited the debate between proponents of assisted suicide and right to life campaigners.

Media attention has this week been focused on an alleged mercy killing by Ray Gosling, the former BBC reporter.

In a recent TV programme, Gosling claims to have smothered his lover who was terminally ill with HIV AIDs. Today the police have arrested him on suspicion of murder. Let’s assume the story is true; Should he be charged with murder?

In the eyes of the law he has committed murder. According to Gosling, who is now in his seventies, this act done with the tacit understanding of the doctor who left the room for a few minutes before coming back to be told that the young man had died. Is this different to someone who accompanies a loved one to Zurich to visit Dignitas, where a fatal dose of drugs is taken that results in death. Is it different from preparing a cocktail of medication to help end the life of a terminally ill friend?

I don’t know the answer and the courts do not readily consider compassion when weighing right or wrong. The frightening thing is that this may well be a situation we may all face, either as the helper or the helped!

I think this all boils down to one simple question – do we have the right to end our life and ask for help doing it?
To my mind the answer is a resounding, yes!

Could I ask one of my friends or loved ones to help me – with difficulty?
Would I expect someone to actually kill me – definitely not!

Should Ray Gosling stand trial for murder?
I don’t think so. If these events are true and Ray is foolish enough to give details of when and where and assuming the police can get the evidence to satisfy the CPS it would be cruelty itself to prosecute.

I have tried to imagine a situation where one of my loved ones asks me to help them die – let alone actually do the killing. If I knew the hopelessness of the situation and could see the pain they were in, I more than likely would do it. What would be my thoughts as this scenario enacted itself, especially the trauma of having to do the killing. After it was all over can you imagine the sense of loss, the pain and the guilt one would feel? And what about those nights when it’s re-enacted in your dreams – a terrible legacy of helping a loved one. No, if this is true I think this man has already paid a terrible price for the love he had for some one.

Let it go and leave them both at peace.


Ray Gosling qualifies his 'mercy killing' confession 


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