Monday, January 19, 2015

Experts say: Scotland's assisted suicide bill will undermine suicide prevention efforts.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Herald newspaper in Scotland is reporting that experts are warning that the assisted suicide bill that is being debated in the Scottish parliament would undermine efforts to prevent suicide.

The Herald reported that:

A law that would legalise assisted suicide is facing growing opposition, as academics and ethicists raised fresh concerns that it would lead to the elderly being put under pressure to kill themselves. 
Figures within the medical profession have also raised new concerns that if the Bill currently making its way through Holyrood passes, it would undermine efforts to reduce suicides generally and open the door to euthanasia.
The article continued by quoting from the experts who submissions to the Scottish Health Committee on the assisted dying bill:
J Kenyon Mason Institute
The J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law, based at the University of Edinburgh, said in its submission that there were insufficient safeguards to protect patients "from coercion or undue influence in making decisions". 
... Robert Preston, director of Living and Dying Well, a research body established in 2010 to examine the evidence surrounding the end-of-life debate, claimed there was "no effective safeguarding system to protect the public and especially its most vulnerable members". 
He went on to argue that there are a number of important weaknesses in the Bill, including the lack of the need for a psychiatric assessment before an assisted suicide could take place. 
Mr Preston added: "In these days when home visits are not as common as was once the case, doctors often know little of their patients' lives beyond the consulting room. Yet the Bill is asking them to make life or death decisions without any objective assessment regime to guide them."
The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics stated:
labelled the proposals "dangerous" and said elderly and other vulnerable people may feel it is their "duty to die" as they are a burden or because their care was eating up family members' inheritance.
The Scottish government opposes the assisted dying bill but Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) will be given a free vote on the bill.

The previous assisted dying bill was sponsored by Margo MacDonald (MSP), that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Scotland was overwhelmingly defeated on Dec. 1, 2010 by a vote of 85 to 16.

The current assisted dying bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald (November 2013). After she died it was picked up by Patrick Harvie (MSP).

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