Embodiment, choice and control at the beginning and ending of life: Paradoxes and contradictions. A provocation

Sue Westwood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter draws on the previous contributions in this volume to consider five key proposed conceptual paradoxes and contradictions engaged by the prohibitions on assisted dying in England. These are as follows: (1) While it is lawful for a person to end their life, paradoxically, is it unlawful to be with them while they perform this lawful act, or to assist them in doing so. (2) While women can be lawfully assisted to exercise control over preventing and ending the new life of others through contraception and abortion, they (and men) cannot be lawfully assisted to exercise control over their own bodies’ endings. (3) While it is lawful and considered a ‘good’ to end the life of a suffering, dying animal, it is unlawful and considered ‘bad’ to help end the life of a suffering, dying human being who wants to die. (4) The law protects a person from cruel and inhumane treatment, apart from when they are dying. (5) The right to life is enshrined in law, but the right to death is not. Each is considered in turn with the aim of advocating for a regulated right to assisted dying, and for a right to die.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegulating the End of Life
Subtitle of host publicationDeath Rights
EditorsSue Westwood
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429329739
ISBN (Print)9780367333539
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2021

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