Monday, April 19, 2010

In defence of 'Dr Death' - a riposte to 'Odious' Odone

Torygraph writer Cristina 'Odious' Odone has an article today which makes for a pretty unpleasant attack on the candidate I am Agent for in the election, Dr Evan Harris.

She attacks Evan for his position on abortion (broadly in line with the current law but making it easier for women to access abortions earlier and with less stressful processes) and assisted dying (where he is broadly in line with the vast majority of people).

She apparently believes that Evan's stances on these issues somehow make the Lib Dems 'creepy' and that he deserves the tagline 'Dr Death' for his efforts.

Setting aside the childish nature of such name-calling for a moment, it is worth noting that nowhere in her article does she put forward any actual arguments against Evan's views.

Nor does she put forward any reasons why taking a stance on such issues is a bad thing, or inappropriate.

I wonder if she, like many people, just finds the idea of having a rational debate about the rights of people who are terminally ill and living a life of pain to decide their own fate a bit unpleasant.

I don't agree with Evan on everything, but I think we need more MPs like him.

We need more people in the House of Commons who look at the evidence before coming to a decision on an issue, who can string together a rational argument to back up their position, and who are willing to discuss and promote sensitive issues which have a real impact on the lives (and dignified deaths) of their constituents.

If you find the views of 'Odious' Odone as ridiculous, petty and childish as I do, please pay a small visit to here.

And do read the comments. There is one from Evan himself and several from constituents of Oxford West & Abingdon.

10 comments:

Jennie said...

Hear hear

Anonymous said...

Actually, Evan Harris has been known to his parliamentary colleagues as Dr. Death for many years - Christina Odone didn't invent it.

Harris wants to remove the necessity for two doctors to sign the consent form for an abortion to be performed - something which is not allowed for any surgical procedure. So he's aiming to remove an important safeguard that protects women's health. The aim of speeding up the procedure is to allow the mother as little time for reflection on her decision to abort her baby as possible. I'm sure you'd agree a woman shouldn't be rushed into such a decision. Is Evan Harris in favour of having alternatives to abortion explained to expectant mothers, to give them a real choice? Not that I'm aware of.
You claim to be in favour of a rational debate about assisted suicide. Are you also in favour of a rational, open debate on abortion? Because we haven't had one in this country for two generations. With around 200,000 unborn babies aborted every year in the UK, surely the time has come for an informed public debate on the matter. Somehow, I doubt whther Evan Harris and advocates of abortion would welcome that!
As for assisted suicide, the threat to elderly people who will come under pressure to kill themselves because they are perceived as a "burden" will be unbearable for many. Around a third of all "voluntary" euthanasia in the Netherlands is involuntary. Those who are terminally ill can in virtually all cases have their pain relieved to a reasonable level thanks to the pioneering work of the hospice movement. There is no need to kill them. The fact is, though, that many campaigning for the right to kill themselves with their friends' help are not terminally ill. For example, Terry Pratchett wants to legalise assisted suicide, but he's suffering from Alzheimer's, which is not a terminal illness. So there's a wider agenda at work here.
An Abingdon Constituent

Liberal Neil said...

Anonymous - whether or not other childish people call Evan Harris names it doesn't excuse Christina Odone when she chooses to do so.

On abortion, there has been a pretty wide ranging public debate over many years and i have no problem with all sides of the debate arguing their side of it.

Evan is certainly in favour of young women being given far more information and advice about relationships, sexual health etc, a policy which has, in other countries, provne to be a very effective way of increasing the age at which young people decide to have sex and decreasing the level of unwanted pregnancies.

I would certainly accept that there is a debate to be had around assisted dying, and particularly the risk of older people being pressured.

On the principle though, we simply disagree. My view is that it is up to an individual to decide the point at which the impact of their illness means that they no longer want to go on, and not up to the state to decide for them, as long as there are robust safeguards in place.

Anonymous said...

"whether or not other childish people call Evan Harris names it doesn't excuse Christina Odone when she chooses to do so.
Neither does it you (Christina "Odious" Odone... childish, wouldn't you say?)

"Evan is certainly in favour of young women being given far more information and advice about relationships, sexual health etc"
With respect, you've avoided my question by answering a different one. It wasn't about relationships and contraception advice. What I asked was whether Evan Harris supports expectant mothers being given information about alternatives to abortion, so they understand that abortion is not the only option. I suspect Evan Harris opposes such an idea, but perhaps you can surprise me on that one!

"My view is that it is up to an individual to decide the point at which the impact of their illness means that they no longer want to go on, and not up to the state to decide for them, as long as there are robust safeguards in place."
The law as it stands does not make suicide a criminal offence, so someone already has that choice. Suicide is, in fact, extremely rare. In societies that have legalised euthanasia, including assisted suicide, the death rate is higher than the normal suicide rate, suggesting undue pressure on non-suicides.
Robust safeguards you say? Wasn't the signature of two doctors (not just one) one of the robust safeguards built into the Abortion Act? My MP and your candidate wants to dismantle that safeguard. So how seriously am I expected to take such reassurances on assisted suicide?
An Abingdon Constituent

Liberal Neil said...

""whether or not other childish people call Evan Harris names it doesn't excuse Christina Odone when she chooses to do so.
Neither does it you (Christina "Odious" Odone... childish, wouldn't you say?)"

I'm guessing you're not big on irony then?

Anonymous said...

And I'm guessing you're not big on answering my question about Evan Harris's position on providing information to expectant mothers on the alternatives to abortion, i.e. a real choice. Do I get a straight answer or more avoidance?
An Abingdon Constituent

Liberal Neil said...

I don't know what Evan's position is on the giving of advice during preganancy. I will check next time I see him.

I do know that he is concerned that a) policies reduce the level of unwanted pregnancy overall and b) that if a woman wants to have an abortion she can do so earlier rather than later.

ACook said...

The law as it stands does not make suicide a criminal offence, so someone already has that choice. Suicide is, in fact, extremely rare. In societies that have legalised euthanasia, including assisted suicide, the death rate is higher than the normal suicide rate, suggesting undue pressure on non-suicides.

Because terminally ill people have ample opportunity to kill themselves.

Lucy Fir said...

Well-done Liberal Neil on having the courage of your convictions along with the honesty, integrity and transparency to put your name to your opinions.

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