Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 12.25.12A Sunderland academic will argue that legalising assisted suicide will reduce privacy and freedom, during an international lecture in The Netherlands this month.

Dr Kevin Yuill will argue that atheists and libertarians, as well as those favouring abortion rights and stem-cell research, should stand beside their religious compatriots in opposing legalisation of euthanasia.

Analysing the movement for the right to die in historical terms, Dr Yuill, a Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sunderland, believes legalising assisted suicide will reduce privacy and freedom.

He is presenting his arguments at the annual Telders Lecture yesterday (March 15) in Utrecht. TheTelders Foundation is a Dutch think tank for liberalism, affiliated to the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. It annually organises a lecture in which a prominent academic, journalist or politician presents his or her view on recent events or current debates.

During his lecture: ‘The Implications for a Liberal Society of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia’, Dr Yuill says he will come up with a radical alternative to legalisation of assisted suicide that would “embrace both the causes of freedom and the anxieties of many about securing good deaths”.

The lecture will be based on findings featured in his 2013 book: Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) which argues that the real issue behind the debate is not euthanasia but suicide. Rather than focusing on tragic cases, he indicates the real damage that will be done if we affirm the suicidal wishes of even a small segment of the population.

“Why would we say that we will assist those with terminal illnesses who have suicidal wishes and not others?” Dr Yuill asks.

Yuill differs with many others who oppose assisted suicide in that he says some suicides can be noble acts of self-sacrifice. However, he adds: “Most suicides are overwhelmingly bad events and even humanists should not be afraid to regard them as wrong. Assisted suicide puts the Government in the business of judging which are right and which are wrong before they take place.”