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Richard Dawkins says legalising assisted dying would 'prolong life'

The biologist and writer said a law would prevent people from taking their lives early out of fear

Antonia Molloy
Friday 07 November 2014 15:34 GMT
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Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views (AFP/Getty)

Richard Dawkins has said that legalising assisted dying would help to prolong life – because it would prevent people killing themselves out of fear for the future.

The biologist and writer wrote on Twitter today: “Paradoxically, assisted dying would prolong life. People kill themselves NOW before becoming incapable of doing so later.”

The outspoken atheist said that knowing they had a way out of their suffering would enable people to enjoy their last days.

He tweeted: “I said ‘paradox’ for a REASON. Fear you'll become incapable of suicide? Knowledge a Dr can help later, would encourage you NOT to do it now.”

His comments come as Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill goes through the committee stage today. The bill seeks to “enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life; and for connected purposes”.

Dawkins directed his tweets at campaign group Dignity in Dying, which is calling for a change in the law.

He was also active on the social media site last night, as he responded to claims by EO Wilson that he was a journalist.

Referencing the pair’s differing views on evolution, the Harvard professor said: “There is no dispute between me and Richard Dawkins and there never has been, because he’s a journalist, and journalists are people that report what the scientists have found and the arguments I’ve had have actually been with scientists doing research.”

“Anybody who thinks I'm a journalist who reports what other scientists think is invited to read The Extended Phenotype.”

Dawkins is well known for his forthright views on Twitter. In July he claimed that while he would never endorse rape, "date rape is bad" and "stranger rape at knifepoint is worse" .

And in August he said it would be "immoral" to bring a child with Down Syndrome into the world.

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