An end-of-life care expert has welcomed the rejection of assisted suicide in the Welsh Assembly.
Last week Assembly Members (AMs) voted 21-12 against a motion on the issue, and 20 AMs abstained.
Baroness Finlay, who has worked in palliative care in Wales for over 25 years, supported the decision which she described as “clear and refreshing”.
‘Fraught with error’
Writing for Wales Online, Lady Finlay said that when people are “listened to and get the care they need, the wish to die vanishes”.
She also commented that predicting how long people may live is “fraught with error” and that doctors “rarely know whether there is family pressure on a patient”.
“I have been fooled by patients’ families who were apparently loving but turned out to be otherwise.”
Commenting on the debate, Lady Finlay said many AMs drew attention to “gaping holes” in legislation currently being considered in the Westminster Parliament.
Lord Falconer’s Bill “goes to considerable lengths to dress up what it is proposing in reassuring language”, and does not provide sufficient safeguards, Lady Finlay added.
She said AMs “spoke with sensitivity and compassion – about for example the impossibility of predicting life expectancy, the ways people in despair can change their views when they get the care they need and the way they can easily come to feel they are a burden”.
She commented that in “caring for dying people for over 25 years, I have seen at first-hand how thousands of people have faced their own dying.
“Dying people have spoken to me about wanting to end it all. The vast majority of such conversations are a response to fear or depression, or to unseen pressures or feelings of being a burden.
“When they are listened to and get the care they need, the wish to die vanishes.”
The Welsh Assembly does not have the power to legalise the practice, but AMs were asked to vote on whether they supported the principle of Lord Falconer’s Bill, which would apply to doctors in England and Wales.
It would mean they could give lethal drugs to terminally ill patients thought to have less than six months left to live.