Ian Brady: Right to Die?

by izzabellezi

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As I write this, Ian Brady is in court attempting to gain the right to be moved to a prison in which he hopes he will no longer be force fed and allowed to die on his own terms. The contentious issue is his sanity: he’s a diagnosed schizophrenic, but Dr. Adrian Grounds who has interviewed the man on numerous occasions over the last decade argues that he feigned symptoms of the mental illness by mimicking patients around him. Brady now claims that he is absolutely sane, and hopes to be moved to a prison facility as opposed to a mental hospital.

Should Brady be allowed to commit suicide? I find it interesting that while a significant proportion of the population advocate the death penalty (regardless of the mental state of the criminal), and during the trial of the Moors Murderers there was a demand for the return of the death penalty, we seem to be, for the most part, refusing this man the right to die. In 2011 Andrew Turner, Conservative MP gave Ian Brady as a prime example of when the death penalty would be appropriate. I’m surprised by the lack of advocacy for Brady’s choice. I suspect it may be on the grounds that we generally don’t want prisoners to make any decisions for themselves, regardless of how appealing the outcome of that decision may seem to us: if he gets his own way, we’ll see it as a victory for a man we want to see constantly fail. If Brady were to beg for more life, if he was receiving state of the art medical care to keep him alive, perhaps there would be an equal uproar.

I personally believe that assisted suicide or euthanasia, under the right circumstances and sufficiently approved, ought to be legal in the UK. I believe that this is a case where a man, who has refused to be fed for over 10 years, coherently knows that he wishes to die. I’m not saying I’m on the side of a Moors murderer, I’m saying I’m on the side of a human being who has made up his mind about his own life: he’s not going to be able to reform himself or change his outlook. He cannot integrate into a normal prison life – he’d be subject to violence and besides, he’s a sociopath. Ian Brady needs to be allowed to go through to courts and speak for himself in order to be given the right to have control over his own existence.

Obviously, I don’t know this case back to front, I’m not sitting in court today listening to the testimonies. If anyone can comment or add something to this post I’d be glad to hear contributions. I’m only speaking on the basis of my own beliefs about the right to life and death, and in addition to my perception that Ian Brady is sufficiently mentally coherent to make such decisions over his own life.