Bill’s finer detail

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The Rev Donald MacDonald (Letters, 19 December) has been keen to pinpoint “key phrases” in the accompanying documents to the Assisted Suicide Bill to illustrate what he claims to be the danger of it. However, surprisingly, in his most recent letter (21 December) he chooses not to apply the same rigour in his analysis.

He complains that the criteria for eligibility are so vague they are capable of wide interpretation and that medical opinion will be nothing more than a “rubber stamp”. May I draw his attention to paragraphs 26 to 36 of the policy memorandum to the bill that describes the process by which patients request assistance to die and clinicians decide whether they agree to, or deny, that request.

Paragragh 28 of the explanatory notes to the bill states that medical practitioners will not be restricted in any way from seeking any additional professional opinions, including, if necessary, those from psychiatry.

As someone who values deeply autonomy and choice, I fully understand and respect Dr MacDonald’s opposition to assisted suicide, but he must accept that others do not share his view. I agree with him, for example, that we still have some way to go with regard to palliative care, a fact acknowledged only on Saturday by the Scottish Government in announcing that the Liverpool Care Pathway is to be completely reviewed. A very welcome move. It is time the same honesty was applied to the debate on assisted suicide.

Peter Warren

Office of Margo 
MacDonald MSP

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