Should Euthanasia be legalised in England and Wales? Interpreting John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle

Lauren Wharton


In September 2017, Margaret Somerville wrote a powerful article in The Guardian arguing that euthanasia offered individuals death rather than loving care. She cautioned against normalising assisted dying and the unavoidable “slippery slope”. This article will explore the arguments put forward in Somerville’s piece, against John Stuart Mill’s harm principle. The author will argue that the harm principle is preferred for the following reasons; an individual’s autonomy is central to a liberal society, individuals should also be free to make their own choices about their life, and the law should be equal to all. The article will look at criticisms and support for the harm principle and will finally reach a conclusion on whether or not assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legalised.

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