Suicide pact

Whether by accident or design, Rev Donald McDonald’s response (Letters, 17 February) to mine exhibits several of the conflations and errors all too often advanced by those who reject assisted suicide.

At the outset, he confuses suicide with homicide. In fact, the bill explicitly states that euthanasia will remain illegal in this country.

However, should the bill become law, it will facilitate assisted suicide for those who wish to consider that option and decriminalise the actions of doctors who agree to assist their patients.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

In the case of terminally ill individuals who are suffering intolerably, many doctors take the view that allowing them the option of self-administering a life-ending medication would be an act of great kindness.

He goes on to say: “I hope the General Medical Council (GMC) and the British Medical Association (BMA) continue their opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide.”

This demonstrates a woeful igorance of the facts.

The GMC’s website notes that “the GMC does not have a position – even one of neutrality – on matters dealt with in statute or criminal law such as assisted suicide”. In other words, the GMC is duty-bound to follow the law of the land, including Scotland, regarding medical matters, rather than set itself above it.

The BMA, a trade union which is principally concerned with representing doctors in negotiations over their terms and conditions of service, at present opp- oses assisted suicide.

However, the Royal College of General Practitioners in Scotland and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland, among other professional bodies, having consulted their members regarding the draft Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, decided to neither support nor oppose it.

This stance honestly reflected the wide range of opinions within their membership. The suggestion that a single position will encapsulate all relevant points of view within an organisation is fallacious.

Finally, he hopes, “the Scottish Parliament will reject the bill and instead ensure that good palliative care is available to all who need it”.

To insinuate that our law- makers will be required to face such a choice is disingenuous. This bill does nothing to undermine palliative care. On the contrary, it will complement it and enhance the choices open to those who might find themselves requiring such attention.

The sensitive issues surrounding end-of-life care are complex, interrelated and nuanced.

The need for clarity and accuracy when debating them is paramount.

Bob Scott

My Life, My Death, My Choice campaign