Medical assistance

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Bob Scott (Letters, 14 February) disagrees that a doctor who writes a prescription for a fatal dose of a drug for a patient would be involved in “killing people. While the decision to take the fatal dose may be the patient’s, the decision could not be made without the assistance provided by the doctor and a pharmacist. Assistance includes all the actions necessary to provide the means for the act of suicide.

The situation is entirely different from that in which a doctor prescribes a drug that is safe in normal doses but can be lethal in overdose (for example, paracetamol). Here the intention is to relieve pain, while in the case of assisted suicide the intention of the prescriber is that the patient should die. This ought to remain out of bounds for the medical profession.

The attempt of the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill to distance the medical profession from the act of suicide is unsuccessful. I hope the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association continue their opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide and that the Scottish Parliament will reject this bill and instead ensure that good palliative care is available to all who need it.

Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald

Craiglockhart Grove

Edinburgh

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