Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scottish euthanasia bill would encourage suicide tourism to Scotland

A leader of Dignity in Dying, the leading euthanasia lobby group in the UK, has warned that the bill that was introduced by Margo MacDonald to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in Scotland would also encourage suicide tourism to Scotland.

Edward Turner, the treasurer for the Dignity in Dying group, was reported in an article written by Charlene Sweeney for The Times in the UK, as saying:
Margo MacDonald's assisted suicide Bill is "morally ambiguous" and would encourage suicide tourism to Scotland if it became law.

Turner also explained his concerns related to the fact that the bill focuses on legalising euthanasia for people with disabilities. He stated:
Ms MacDonald's inclusion of people who had been physically incapacitated raised troubling questions about the value of the lives of the disabled.

"When you talk about that (people with disabilities), it's morally ambiguous. I'm not saying it is immoral, I am not saying it is right or wrong, but people have a range of views. There is an issue about the protection of disabled people's lives. Some disabled people are very threatened the idea that able-bodied society as a whole, which has no experience of disability and no experience of the discrimination which disabled people face, would suddenly say, "Ah, that's the answer to disability - give people the option of assisted death.'"

The article also stated that:
Mr Turner said that he and Ms. MacDonald had spoken about their differences and "agreed to disagree", but he suggested that the inclusion of disabled people would be one of the parts of the "End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill" to fall.

Turner suggested that even though the bill states that the person must be registered with a Scottish physician for 18 months that people with "money, wherewithal, nous and forward planning" would find a way to bend the rules. He stated:
"If they get diagnosed with something unpleasant, as a little kind of insurance policy they'd try and register with a Scottish GP, and you might even find people moving there."

Alison Davis, the leader of the disability rights group, no less human, who lives with spina bifida, emphysema and osteoporosis, opposes the Scottish bill based on her experience as a person with disabilities. Seventeen years ago, she decided she too wanted to die. The pain she still suffers is constant. "When the pain is at its worst I cannot think or speak, and this can go on for hours, with no prospect of relief. Taking morphine often makes me feel sick, and severe nausea is an added burden," she declares. She tried cutting her wrists and taking overdoses of painkillers. Had euthanasia or assisted suicide been legal she would now be dead. But then she changed her mind. A visit to a disabled children's project in India, where she saw the suffering of dozens of uncared-for youngsters convinced her to set up a charity helping them.

Allison Davis states that:
"Euthanasia would have robbed me of the last 17 years of my life, and it would have robbed my Indian children of the chance in life they now have,"

As much as I like the honesty of Edward Turner, the fact is that he is only discussing a difference in strategy. Essentially Turner is saying that MacDonald's bill is likely to fail because it is ambiguous and is perceived as a threat to the lives of people with disabilities. Turner supports a "go slow" approach that would, in the end, give us all the same provisions of MacDonald's Bill but do so through time.

Link to the article from The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article7019800.ece

No comments: