We have taken another step towards allowing the killing or the old and the ill - or 'assisted suicide' as the modern euphemism describes it.
The legislation of assisted suicide has moved a significant step closer after the Government made clear that it would not stand in the way of a change in the law.Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and peers – including Coalition ministers – will be given a free vote on a Bill that would enable doctors to help terminally ill patients to die.
Such a step would be terrible and tragic. I don't say this for reasons of religious conviction - I'm not sure I have much of that left - but for reasons of consequence and because we assume that the motives of the killer are always pure.
I've written before that my Mum worked with the elderly for over two decades - running a day centre, delivering meals-on-wheels and organising a whole range of other support and service. And one thing she said more than once was that almost every day she heard at least one old person wish they were dead.
"I'm just a burden" the old person would say. Or "I'm trapped in this flat, it's not worth living". Even "were I dead the grandkids could have the money".
And my mum, in her practical way, would tell them not to be so daft, to have a cup of tea and that she'd get her onto the minibus next week for the trip to Ramsgate. If mum knew the family or the neighbour she'd ask them to call roand - give a bit of cheer to a depressed old person.
Imagine instead the world of 'assisted suicide'. There'd be a form to fill in, a signature or other indication of assent to obtain and probably a certificate from a doctor confirming the old person was compus mentus. The minibus wouldn't be to Ramsgate but to a comfortable hospital bed where that old person would be made comfortable. The family might cluck round a bit but probably not - just enough to make sure the deed was done.
And then the doctor would kill that person. Dead.
Is this what we want in a civilised society? Is this progress?
I don't think so. It doesn't matter how you wrap it up, how many tragic circumstances are produced to support the proposals, 'assisted suicide' requires one person to kill another person. And that is wrong.