Sunny evening, 6 June 2018

Thursday, 21 January 2010


The Scottish Parliament today started to debate a Bill on Assisted Suicide. It was launched by MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) Margo Macdonald, who is a passionate believer in what she terms assisted suicide. I think it is a good thing to have a debate on this very difficult issue, and party leaders at Holyrood have promised that members will have a free vote on the issue, once the time for that arrives.

I copy a summary of the Bill's main points from the BBC website:

  • Person must be terminally ill or "permanently physically incapacited"
  • Request must be made to and approved by doctor and psychiatrist
  • Both must be asked twice after 15-days cooling off period
  • Assistance must be supervised by the approving doctor
  • Close friends and relatives banned from administering drug
  • Only over-16s qualify
  • Applicants must be registered with Scottish GP for 18 months
  • Bill does not apply to those with dementia or other degenerative mental condition
As you may be aware, euthanasia has been practiced in the Netherlands for more than 30 years under a similar legal framework. I should add that once death has occurred, the GP is required to report the event to the public prosecutor, and I understand that same will also apply in Scotland. Once the prosecutor is satisfied that the legal requirements have been met, no prosecution will follow.

In the UK, there have been several high-profile cases, where terminally ill people travelled to Switzerland for euthanasia. Doctors in the UK would face prosecution for manslaughter or murder, and so would anyone else involved in the euthanasia. It is time this issue is sorted out either way. I hope this Bill will start a nationwide debate in the UK on euthanasia - to place it on the statute book as accepted legal practice, or not as the case may be.

I realise that my standpoint may be incompatible with that of several of my readers, and I apologise for any upset or distress caused. However, this is an issue under debate in society and if anyone has any views on this, it would be very good to have them all aired.


  1. Seems a perfectly rational and humane way to go about these matters. Would get my vote and I hope Scotland leads the way on the issue.

  2. This Bill would get my yes vote too.
    If we are capable of euthanasing our pets to allieviate their sufferings then surely we can allow this freedom of choice for our fellow man.

  3. The thing that worries me and that they have seen in the Netherlands is that people were being coerced into agreeing to it by family and the doctors were still doing. A fair amount of doctors admit to doing it without the patients knowledge or wishes if they deemed the patient was going to die anyway.

    In one case the wife kept threatening the husband with a nursing home and accused him of being a burden until he agreed to sign. The doctor was aware of it and still allowed it.

    Human nature being what it is the system will be abused. Not every time but enough that it worries me. I can't tell you how many times I see family thinking their aged family members are a burden.

    On the other hand I worked oncology for years and agree, people shouldn't suffer, and we don't let them. They are very liberal with pain medication. Shouldn't that be all we need?

  4. As a veterinary surgeon I performed the euthanasia of animals under my care.
    They received the best I and my colleagues could give them for life but when life was an intolerable burden for them that could not be relieved then I supported my clients who were the loving owners with the most difficult decision they could ever make.
    I told them 'nature' never allows any animal to suffer for long. When we take the responsibility of life away from nature we also take on the responsibility to ensure that no animal in our care suffers pain with no possible relief.
    I realise that when this is extended to human life then the 'pain' is both physical and mental for we are an animal that feels the passage of time including the future. We can project ourselves into the future in our thoughts.
    Here is where great care must be taken.
    All aspects of depression for the future must be eliminated only the present is known and therefore only the present should be assessed for the decision.

  5. This is very interesting. There is no way such a thing would pass in the U.S., at least not on a federal basis. It will be interesting to see what they will decide.