By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, Spokesperson - Not Dead Yet UK
An online news service has claimed that Scotland is set to introduce the ‘most robust’ assisted suicide legislation yet (Sputnik, Dec 29, 2014). Nonsense.
Scotland’s previous attempts at legalising someone else to intervene in another’s death by causing that dying person’s final end, have been amongst the weakest, most flawed to appear in any legislature.
The current Bill is just as bad as any seen in Scotland previously. It continues to include ‘people with progressive life-shortening conditions’ – thus it exposes pretty nearly every significantly disabled person to the threats inherent in it. It sets a 14 day limit from decision to death: a perilously thin time in which to detect and treat depression. It removes any question of crimes being committed in ‘assisting’ or pressing someone to commit suicide – as long as the assister claims ‘I acted out of compassion’ they will be free of investigation. But saying does not make it so.
The Bill contains all the other flaws of proposed and in other jurisdictions, enacted laws. The simple truth is that we can never legislate in advance for ‘pure compassion’ because there is no such thing, even in well-meaning people who give assistance. It is no more robust than any other law, proposed or already in force. And it is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.
The lie is that there will be ‘safeguards’. The overwhelming evidence from around the world is that such laws do exactly the opposite of what their proponents claim: it removes choice from patients, placing it in the hands of the minority of doctors who are willing to move from protecting life to furnishing the means to take it.