The Ethical Imagination

Bioethicist Margaret Somerville talks about rights, choices, and why she’s against euthanasia.

Do we – or should we – have the right to choose when and how we die?

“A physician intervening with the intention to kill is a radical change in the law, it’s a radical change in medicine, and it’s a radical change in the most fundamental of society’s values, namely, respect for life.”

Margaret Somerville is an Australian bioethicist. She’s sympathetic to those who see euthanasia as a way of easing suffering – but also strongly disagrees with them.

Simon Smart talks to Professor Somerville about what’s happening with euthanasia around the world, how we make ethical choices, and what kind of society we want to leave for future generations.

“You can’t judge a society by how it treats its strongest, most powerful, most privileged members. You can judge it by how it treats its weakest, most in need, most vulnerable people. People who are old and fragile and dying – they belong in the latter group. So if all we’re going to do for them is give them a lethal injection, I think we’re a pretty sad and sick society.”

This episode was first broadcast on 30 July 2015.