Top Doc warns of danger posed by end-of-life Bill

A leading doctor has warned that a Bill which would legalise assisted suicide would betray “Scottish values” for the benefit of a vocal few.

The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, proposed by Margo MacDonald MSP, would allow the terminally ill and people who are “permanently physically incapacitated” to seek assistance in ending their lives.

But Dr Rosemary Barrett, Director of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, has warned that Scotland has no need of such a law.


Dr Barrett, in an article for the Scotsman newspaper, said: “The Bill is designed for people who believe their existence is ‘intolerable’. However, the truth is that Scotland offers excellent care for people suffering from extraordinary pain.

“Our palliative care services are capable of more than adequately managing physical pain. With such advanced medical services available, no person needs to experience ‘intolerable’ pain.”

Dr Barrett also warned that any relaxation of the nation’s laws would only be in the interests of a small minority of Scots.


She cautioned: “We must remember that the actions of a few profoundly affect many others.

“The legalisation of euthanasia would betray our Scottish values by acting in the interest of only a small segment of society.”

“Passing the Bill would clash with our historic standards of caring for the whole of society, not simply submitting to a vocal and influential few.”


But Dr Libby Wilson, Medical Adviser to the pro-euthanasia group Friends at the End, dismissed concerns over any change to the law.

Dr Wilson said that “it is blatantly obvious that dying people should be able to decide the time and place of their death.”

Assisted suicide is currently illegal in Scotland and anyone involved in assisting suicide may be charged with culpable homicide.


Last month over 14,000 people signed a petition against the End of Life Assistance Bill.

And a public consultation on the Bill revealed that a staggering 86 per cent of the consultation’s respondents, some 601 people and organisations, were opposed to it.

In April a leading group of Scottish healthcare professionals attacked the Bill.

In an open letter to The Times newspaper 16 palliative care specialists warned that the Bill could have a devastating effect on some of the most vulnerable members of society.

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