Holyrood must heed the “alarm bells” sounding overseas about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide, a columnist has said.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Madeline Grant said evidence from Europe and North America vindicated all the warnings from those opposed to euthanasia. She said that so-called safeguards offered by assisted suicide campaigners to allay fears are “invariably removed”.
In October, Liam McArthur MSP secured the right to introduce his Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament which would allow terminally ill residents aged 16 or over to be prescribed drugs to kill themselves.
Grant highlighted the increasingly permissive legislation on assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands, where euthanasia for children is now allowed.
She also pointed to a recent report from the US state of Oregon that found “suffering from conditions of old age, such as arthritis or complications from a fall” warranted assisted suicide.
“In ultra-permissive Canada”, the newspaper’s Assistant Comment Editor continued, “the situation is less slippery slope, more the north face of the Eiger”.
She explained: “Harrowing tales have surfaced of disabled people, those in financial straits or simply tired of life, choosing to end their lives.”
the situation is less slippery slope, more the north face of the Eiger
Based on the experience in other countries, she asked: “How confident can we be that this will not happen in Britain?”
She reasoned that, in the light of “an overstretched health service, an ageing population, a social care crisis” and relatives with an eye on their inheritance, we faced an “equally nightmarish experience”.
Judging by Holyrood’s handling of the “botched Offensive Behaviour at Football Act” and the sex-swap debacle, Grant concluded: “it is not at all clear that this would be the best place for a measured and sober discussion of the risks”.
A recent poll conducted by the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland revealed that three quarters of palliative care doctors in Scotland would refuse to play any part in the assisted suicide process were it to be legalised.
The survey also found that 95 per cent of respondents would not prescribe drugs for an assisted suicide, and that 71 per cent would consider resigning if their organisation implemented such programmes.
Dr Gillian Wright, Director of campaign group Our Duty of Care, said the “palliative care community has made a clear statement” that assisted suicide should not be legalised, and the “safeguards proposed will quickly be eroded as in other countries”.