Suicide bill flaws

Professor Charles Warlow (Letters, 10 January) maintains that the principles of the 
Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill are sound and that all that is needed is a bit of tweaking by a sympathetic Parliament.

He seems to forget that it was on the matter of principle that the End of Life Assistance Bill was rejected only four years ago after exhaustive scrutiny. The principles of respect for human life at its most vulnerable, the duty to care for one another and to relieve suffering to the very end of life and the limitation of individual autonomy for the good of others have not changed.

Despite all that should have been learned, the proponents of the present bill have not been able to come up with any more convincing arguments and have failed to present a clearly-defined bill with adequate so-called “safeguards”. The qualifying conditions, which include those with “life-shortening” conditions or illnesses, are very wide indeed, thus including many who may have many years to live.

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In the bill, two doctors need to agree that the person’s quality of life is unacceptable for that person. Note the word is “unacceptable”, whereas Prof Warlow uses “suffering intolerably”.

While ostensibly the bill is aimed at helping a few people who may have uncontrollable pain towards the end of life, it actually goes much further.

The figures from Oregon show that in 2013 only 65 per cent of those who died under the Death with Dignity Act had cancer. The main reasons given for using the Act were loss of autonomy, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of dignity, not uncontrollable pain.

I hope our Parliament will once again reject this bill and 
instead redouble their support for long-term and palliative care for all who need them.

(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald

Craiglockhart Grove

Edinburgh