Healthy middle-aged people could be encouraged to kill themselves if Scotland “opens the door to euthanasia”, a columnist has warned.
Writing in The Scotsman Lori Anderson highlighted two cases of people in their 40s who were not terminally ill being euthanised in Belgium. It legalised the practice in 2002.
The columnist cautioned: “I’m curious to know if Belgium parliamentarians, when introducing euthanasia, pictured relatively healthy, middle-aged men lying down to die with a doctor by their side”.
She commented, “the state shouldn’t say: ‘Let me tighten the noose and kick away the chair'”, but rather: “‘How can we help you to cope?'”
And she said: “My fear is that a society which opens the door to euthanasia can unwittingly put a gentle, well-meaning hand on the back of the suffering, the frightened, the distressed and depressed and push them forward while whispering: ‘Well, there is one option.'”
Lori Anderson also drew attention to figures showing one death in 50 in Belgium is now the result of euthanasia.
Earlier this year Margo MacDonald MSP proposed an assisted suicide Bill, despite her previous attempt at legislation on the issue being soundly rejected.
Under her new Bill patients as young as 16 in Scotland would be able to tell their GP about their desire for assisted suicide.
Bioethics expert Dr Calum MacKellar has criticised the bid, saying the concept of a ‘life unworthy of life’, “should never be accepted in a civilised society”.
Earlier this year it was revealed that 45-year-old identical twins, who were not terminally ill, were killed by lethal injection in Belgium.
Marc and Eddy Verbessem, who were born deaf, sought euthanasia after discovering they were both going blind.
A professor of medical ethics at Leuven in Belgium criticised the killing saying: “In a society as wealthy as ours, we must find another, caring way to deal with human frailty.”
In September this year a woman aged 44 was euthanised in Belgium after a sex change operation did not meet expectations.
Nancy Verhelst, known as Nathan, was killed on the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering”.
She was euthanised by Professor Distelmans, who also ended the lives of the Verbessem twins.