Assisted suicide: the thin end of the wedge

With, she thinks, a public mood behind her Margo Macdonald MSP is proposing a bill to legalise assisted suicide. Politicians wishing to attract votes are likely to follow. Now is the time to write to your MSP.

UPDATE: 03 January 2010

Anne McIntyre of Parliamentary Prayers Scotland writes:

PPS small logoOn 20th January, Margo MacDonald MSP who has Parkinson’s disease, brought the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, to the Scottish Parliament. This would allow terminally ill people to seek help to die at a time of their choosing.

A survey of 90 of the 129 Members showed 17 supported the bill, 53 said they were against and 20 were undecided, and 39 results unknown. A free vote is expected for the first time in the autumn.
Mrs. McDonald, commented:

“It looks as though there are 17 people out of the 90 who are absolutely convinced of the case already. “However, once the public, who are overwhelmingly in favour of this Bill, start getting in touch with their MSPs they would be much more likely to vote for the bill”.

So, now is the time for us to get in touch to write directly to your local, constituency and regional MSPs. All eight of them. You can influence eight votes as, all Members have equal voting powers. will inform who represents you. If you have a personal story of a relative with a good ‘end of life’ experience – i.e. being well cared for in a hospice etc.that carries a lot of weight.

For information on how to write click here

Scroll down to the following letter and article for further information and the background to this development. The Inverness Courier carried an article from Dr Stephen Hutchison who is medical director to the Highland Hospice just over a year ago.

(Original article published 24/03/09)

Letter to the Herald

by Brian Ross

Dear Sir,
Click on logo for web page
and link to send a letter
The latest poll, commissioned by STV News, indicates (surprisingly to some) that some 75% of the population of Scotland support the idea that people should have the legal right to choose when they die. A slightly larger percentage (78%), according to the poll, believes that family members who assist their loved ones to die should not be prosecuted.

All of this may be seen as well and good. However, the six o’clock news bulletin yesterday (Mon.23rd) raised an issue of major concern. One gentleman, suffering from a terminal condition, who was being interviewed commented that if it was “playing God” to end someone’s life, it was equally “playing God” to prolong it.

This, I would respectfully suggest, is confusing two totally different situations. As I have stated in a previously published letter, I am totally opposed to euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide. However, the artificial prolonging of a human life by artificial means, does not strike me as providing the dignity to which the pro-euthanasia campaigners frequently refer.

This is a different matter altogether, and I would be one of those who would “vote” against it. It is one thing to cease to artificially maintain life; it is another thing altogether to deliberately end it. The area is, of course, a “grey” one. It is extremely difficult to make the decision to “switch off the machine”. I know that, as I had to make a similar decision with regard to my own mother – someone whom I loved deeply, and still miss greatly!

My worry is that others who were questioned may also have confused the issues, and that we have been presented with a conclusion that is based on faulty premises and is, therefore, false. I trust that, as is so often the case with other surveys, our political masters will not assume that this result is a genuine reflection of the views of all of the Scottish people, and that they will continue to oppose any measure that could be the thin end of a wedge that leads to compulsory euthanasia.

Yours faithfully,

C.B.Ross (Rev)


Stephen Hutchison
Highland Hospice consultant and committed Christian Dr. Stephen Hutchison was invited by the Inverness Courier to give his views on the subject.

He said:
"What patients want in response to their distress is loving, compassionate and competent caring — rarely physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. But rarely does not mean never. Very occasionally patients will express a wish that their lives could be ended. Often that is an expression of distress rather than a considered request, and there is a well recognised association between this and depression, something we can improve with treatment. Others will mention it because they fear uncontrollable symptoms as the illness progresses, and we can often lessen these fears by reassuring our patients that modern symptom control is of high quality.
" Read on.....

Meanwhile Dr. Iain Kerr a Glasgow GP and former member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Scotland has admitted he was wrong to help an elderly woman patient commit suicide, has been given his job back. He has said: “What I did was unacceptable. There is no place for assisted suicide in medical practice.”

Arguments against euthanasia

List of articles on euthanasia

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Note from Christians Together:

If you don't see your newspaper listed above please be in touch and it will then be included.

Thank you!

Christians Together, 03/02/2010

Rosemary Cameron 05/04/2009 20:58
BBC Radio 4 broadcast a program on the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas on Thurs 2 April - see 'The Report' on the iPlayer. It blew a huge hole in the idea of dying with dignity when it was admitted that because Dignitas has to keep moving from place to place, some patients who went there from other countries actually had to end their lives in a car in a car park! In other instances they used hotel rooms without first informing the hotel management. It seems that the Swiss are getting a bit fed up of the activities of Dignitas and are considering tightening up their laws. We should pray that this would happen. The fact that Dignitas exists and can be accessed by Britons is one of the main drivers towards legalising assisted suicide in this country.
Peter Carr 03/02/2010 17:30
It seems that the Humanist agenda is getting stronger in this land. I suspect though that if this is legalised it will be through the private sector due to the opposition there is to it by BMA.

However, all is not lost yet, we should draw encouragement from the recent victory over the Equality Bill.
Peter Carr (Guest) 27/01/2012 20:38
Assisted suicide is cheaper than caring, warns doctor
In our cost cutting society, will we really rush people, made in God's image, into eternity simply because it is cheaper than keeping them alive?!!

Assisted suicide is cheaper than caring, warns doctor.

"An experienced doctor who works with terminal patients has asked whether assisted suicide is just a cost-saving exercise.

Dr Elizabeth A Burroughs, in a letter to a national newspaper, said: “Quality palliative care costs money; assisted suicide is a cheaper option. But how long would it be before pressure was being placed on the terminally ill to ‘do the decent thing’?”

Dr Burroughs also commented: “In 30 years as a GP, I was asked by at most a handful of terminally ill patients to hasten their deaths..."
Editor 27/01/2012 20:42
See also:
Anon (Guest) 31/01/2012 11:54
When the Abortion Act 1967 was being debated, we were told that it would be very limited in its application. We should all be very well aware of what has happened since that time and that what we now have is abortion virtually on demand. The same thing will happen should assisted suicide be legalised, regardless of the effort of the finest minds to try and convince us otherwise. Eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, the elderly and infirm will be selected for death as a result of intimidation, coercion, fear of being burdensome and even deliberate misinterpretation of the law, with some being selected on the basis that they are unfit or unable to make the choice for themselves.
People who need our care are there for that very purpose, to test us in love. We are deceived if we have been persuaded that the unnatural ending of life in order to alleviate suffering is a caring act. To truly care is to do all in our power to relieve that suffering.
Should assisted suicide become law then it will provide the means for a subtle reintroduction of capital punishment. It will further provide the means whereby those infants who have evaded the screening for disabilities can be eliminated when they are born with so called defects.
I am further concerned that there is a significant economical hidden agenda surrounding this matter.
The proposer(s) and supporters of assisted suicide will be greatly satisfied if a Bill of this nature becomes law in any shape or form because they will be only too aware that it will eventually be amended to suit their aim of death on demand.
In conclusion, it is impossible to safeguard and guarantee the rights of those who are vulnerable in attempting to enshrine in law, the so called rights of some persons to kill themselves, or be assisted in such action.

Penny Lee 31/01/2012 13:56
Anon, I think many of us would agree with all you have said. This proposed change of law is completely unnecessary and we have today even less justification for it due to the advances in palliative care which enable us to alleviate pain and suffering.

I read a comment by a GP recently which stated that, in her entire career, she had been asked by only a handful of patients to help them end their lives. Does this justify changing the law? No, it doesn't and we haven't even touched on the ethical reasons which are profound and just as you describe. I'm sure doctors are asked at times for all sorts of bizarre and frightening requests. Imagine we changed the law to accommodate them!

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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Archive > Letters to the Editor(s) > Assisted suicide: the thin end of the wedge.