Scots assisted suicide Bill could become ‘duty to die’

A bid to legalise assisted suicide is “unnecessary, unethical and dangerous”, and could lead the vulnerable to feel they have a “duty to die”, campaigners say.

Care Not Killing, which opposes the Bill put forward by Margo MacDonald MSP, gave the caution as the Scottish BMA also raised concerns.

The medical group said it would oppose the Bill, saying doctors would be taking on a role “alien” to their position as care givers if they were allowed to help kill people.


The Herald newspaper warned that society’s and doctors’ duty to the most vulnerable should be “protected at all costs”, and if that was threatened by the Bill “MSPs should vote against it”.

Dr Stephen Hutchison – who works in palliative medicine and supports Care Not Killing – said the launch of the new proposals “undermines” his work.

He commented: “As a practising palliative care consultant, I am working hard every day to provide the highest standard of care for my patients.


“Once again Margo MacDonald is revealing how little she really knows about the clinical care of people who are seriously ill.

“Killing people has always been wrong, and it remains wrong. We can do much better than that in a properly caring society.”

Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, cautioned: “The right to die can so easily become the duty to die and vulnerable people who are sick, elderly or disabled will inevitably feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others.”


And Dr Gordon Macdonald, Convenor of Care Not Killing Scotland, said: “Margo MacDonald’s Bill is unnecessary, unethical and dangerous.

“Experience from Oregon, Belgium and the Netherlands shows that there can be no safe system for legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

Earlier this week Margo MacDonald launched her assisted suicide Bill, despite the previous attempt having been soundly defeated by MSPs.

Under her proposals, people as young as 16 with a terminal illness or progressive life-shortening condition would be allowed to tell their GP about their wish for assisted suicide.

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