‘Assisted suicide is just too dangerous’ warns palliative care expert

Removing end-of-life protections for the vulnerable is the “most dangerous thing you can do”, a palliative medicine consultant has warned.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff said that although Canada was told legalising assisted suicide for those deemed terminally ill would be “really safe”, the law has “expanded more rapidly than anywhere else” and it is now the country’s fifth most frequent cause of death.

She slammed accusations of “fearmongering”, highlighting Denmark’s Ethics Council’s conclusion that is “impossible to establish proper regulation of euthanasia”.


Lady Finlay said: “If the nation wants to have a suicide service, then that is up to the nation and the politicians to set it up.

the most dangerous thing you can do

“But the evidence from Oregon, and from the Netherlands, and certainly from Canada, is that by having this as part of clinical care, making ending patients’ lives a specific treatment is the most dangerous thing you can do.”

She stated: “We’re not fearmongering at all, and Australia and New Zealand are already beginning to find problems even though they thought their legislation was tighter. It is not safe, it is just too dangerous.”

Palliative care

Last month, other medics publicly warned that legalising assisted suicide would damage effective palliative care.

In a letter to The Times, cancer specialist Professor Chris Parker reported that patients already have a “real and distressing fear that their life would be ended against their wishes by their healthcare providers”.

Separately, Dr David Randall revealed that such fears have hindered his attempts to “institute humane and effective end-of-life care”, while consultant psychiatrist emeritus Andrzej Wilski said legalising assisted suicide would “inevitably plant in people’s minds the idea that it is virtuous to want to rid the world of one’s old, sick and bothersome self”.

The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee is due to report on its inquiry into assisted suicide in the coming weeks, while Holyrood is also set to consider Liam McArthur MSP’s ‘assisted dying’ Bill.

Also see:

‘Lobby group-backed assisted suicide Bill needs thorough scrutiny’, says MSP

‘Don’t kill patients’ cut from Irish medical ethics guide

Psychiatrist: ‘Canada must stop the runaway train of euthanasia expansion’

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