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 Should assisted suicide be legalised in Scotland? 
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There was a discussion about assisted suicide on the Politics Now programme on STV (Scottish Television) last night in which two representatives from Friends at the End were interviewed. It can be watched here. STV are running a poll asking: Should assisted suicide be legalised in Scotland? The vote is currently 90% in favour. Why not vote and tell us what do you think?

ETA: poll URL!

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Alan Henness

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November 21st, 2008, 11:20 am
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I would vote in favour if I could find where to vote.


November 21st, 2008, 12:07 pm
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Is this an attempt to boost the Scottish tourist industry? Seriously, though - yes, of course. Let us hope that where Scotland goes today, the rest of the world follows tomorrow.


November 21st, 2008, 12:59 pm
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Autumn wrote:
I would vote in favour if I could find where to vote.

Look for the small blue box to the left of the big orange box.
vote here.

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November 21st, 2008, 1:48 pm
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Ninny wrote:
Is this an attempt to boost the Scottish tourist industry? Seriously, though - yes, of course. Let us hope that where Scotland goes today, the rest of the world follows tomorrow.


If it were the other way round, it might prove less successful than hoped. Jocks would hate to waste the return ticket..... :exit:


November 21st, 2008, 2:51 pm
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I did vote and I voted 'yes' and of course I live in Huddersfield !


November 21st, 2008, 3:01 pm
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At the risk of being shot to pieces for stereotyping, I thought there was already a legal form of assisted suicide available in Scotland in the form of a particularly dangerous deep-fried diet, smoking and unhealthy lifestyle.


November 21st, 2008, 11:18 pm
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:hilarity:

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November 30th, 2008, 7:28 pm
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The page with the STV poll has gone, but it looks like it finished with about 80% in favour.

There is a program on BBC 1 on tomorrow night:
Quote:
Panorama

Monday 08 December
8:30pm - 9:00pm
BBC1
I'll Die When I Choose

Politician Margo MacDonald, suffering from Parkinson's Disease, recently spoke openly of her desire to choose the moment of her death. This film follows Margo as she uncovers the truth about assisted dying, meeting those with illnesses like hers who are desperate to die, and exploring how British law could be changed to allow them to choose when they can. She also investigates the underground suicide movement in the UK, and uncovers evidence of powerful veterinary drugs being used illegally.

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December 7th, 2008, 10:39 pm
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A very thought provoking programme. It should, of course, be legalised throughout the UK.

This is a subject that my wife and I have looked at in depth. My wife has multiple sclerosis. The only way is down. She knows that. I know that. My life is dedicated to giving her a decent quality and standard of living for as long as possible. Surely it is a basic human right to be able to decide when that point has been reached when the misery of pain and suffering out-weighs the positives, and to be able to do something about it?

It is all very well for Cardinal Archbishops to trot out that old chesnut 'the Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away' (which they use with equal enthusiasm to allow self-confessed murderers to continue to draw breath and rape victims to be forced to carry their attacker's child), but would they be of the same mind if THEY, or someone they loved, so suffered? I doubt it. Enter hypocrisy and bigotry.


December 18th, 2008, 6:02 am
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I commented in the Herald a few days ago on this subject in response to an article by their religious correspondent, Ron Ferguson: In the face of death, our humanity is not negotiable

ConcernedAbout also touched it elsewhere:
ConcernedAbout wrote:
Assisted suicide is difficult because it could be open to abuse by the malevolent and the manipulative. If you have followed the case of baby P recently you'll know how organizations can fail people with tragic consequences. That doesn't mean to say I am for the ban on assisted suicide. This ban is clealry the ultimate insult to people unable to control their own bodies. Whilst any able bodied person is untterly unhindered by the pointless illegality of suicide, those without such physical freedoms are contrained by law and their own physicality to exist whether it is a happy existence or not. Clealry some careful thinking is needed around the issue, but currently the pro-life dogma has control.

Those opposed to any move in the direction of legalising assisted suicide or Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) usually try several approaches, sometimes all in the same breath: life is sacred (it's not ours to take away); the 'all they need is proper palliative care' argument; or a slippery slope argument about the vulnerable and disabled (Auschwitz frequently gets mentioned).

The first two are easily dismissed (although the first holds sway with many on its own and is a complete roadblock to some — not with anyone here, I suspect!).

The scatter-gun approach makes it difficult to engage in any substantive debate. What I tried to do in the Herald was to focus on seeing if it was, indeed, possible to come up with proposals that would effectively protect the vulnerable.

Polls seem to show an overwhelming support for PAS, but of course, most will not have thought too deeply about the practicalities and protective measures that would be required to protect the vulnerable.

If there is a debate in the Scottish Parliament, it will be dominated by the religionists (we know who they are!) and they will continue with the scatter-gun approach. If they succeed in this, they will win the debate and PAS will not be discussed again seriously for several years. What we all need to do is engage in the debate and steer it away from their platform and argue it on our own terms.

Is it possible to frame legislation so that we allow PAS, but adequately protect the vulnerable? I don't know. But unless we have a detailed discussion on it, we'll never know. What the opposers will always be able to say is that, no matter what the legislation says, no matter what safeguards are put in place, no matter what independent doctor says, there will always be some who will feel it is their duty to unburden the State or their relatives. How do we counter that argument because I think, if we gain ground on the other arguments, that will be the decider.

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December 18th, 2008, 12:13 pm
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Agreed; the problem is the rogue element; the relative who has eyes on someone's estate. The Health authority which has it's finances more to the fore. The Doctor who has his scalpel ready for whatever part of you is recyclable.

I don't think you can frame legislation for every eventuality, it would be far too complex, and any self respecting lawyer would find a way around it. For example, the definition of 'assist'. Does that amount to helping them get on a plane to Switzerland. Or pay their fare because they can't afford it. Or hand to them the means they intend to use? Or look the other way when they embark on the process?

The status quo at the moment seems to be that those people who have gone to court to have the issues clarified have been turned away with the advice that the law is clear; it is illegal to assist a suicide. The DPP has not taken action against any one who has taken the Swiss option. The writing on the wall seems to be that each case will be dealt with on it's merits.


December 18th, 2008, 1:11 pm
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I think it is obvious that there will always be a situation where someone is coerced or feel obliged, but that should not stop us making a law and making it the best we can. However, the argument will be that just one such case will make the whole law wrong and that we therefore shouldn't go down that road at all.

An analogy: seatbelt law. It is overwhelmingly a good law because it saves countless lives. But there are occasional cases where a properly worn seatbelt has killed a driver. But that does not make the seatbelt law a bad law or that it should be repealed. The unintended consequences of the law are just something we have to try to minimise, but, in the case of assisted suicide, it will be these such cases that are held up as the reasons why we cannot enact any such law.

GR: you make some good points about what does and what does not amount to assisting someone to commit suicide and the law is clearly in need of clarification.

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December 18th, 2008, 1:23 pm
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I think I have commented on this before, but I am completely in favour of introducing some kind of assisted suicide as are all my family after watching both my great gran and aunt die in great pain after contracting terminal illnesses. I know that these scenarios prey on my gran's mind a lot just now. She has done a 'living will', but who knows whether that will even be taken into consideration.

I feel so strongly about it that I actually wrote to my MSP after Margo McDonald introduced the bill in the Scottish Parliament. I told him that it was about time for our elected representatives to actually be brave and reflect the wishes of what is quite clearly a majority of the population (survey after survey after survey supports some change in the law). The Bishops and Clergy don't have a constitutional right to meddle in the law-making of the Scottish Parliament so sure it should be easier to get through?

Needless to say I still haven't heard anything from my MSP. Will let you know if I do.

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January 13th, 2009, 11:39 am
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Beki

Are you aware of Friends at the End? They provide information on end of life choices and will be commenting on Margo's Consultation.

There are other consultations that might be of interest:

Quote:
Friends at the End will be responding to these Consultations, but members are urged to make individual responses.

Scottish Parliament Public Petition for referendum on assisted dying Closed, but we urge you to write to your MSP.

Closing date approaching!

Public Consultation on a Patients' Rights Bill for users of the NHS in Scotland Closes on 16 January 2009.

Proposed Palliative Care (Scotland) Bill Closes on 28 February 2009

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January 13th, 2009, 12:07 pm
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I am in favour of assisted suicide being decriminalised, but I have yet to be convinced that it can be framed in such a way to prevent feelings of obligation by the elderly and pressure from relatives. Until then, I'd say no to legal changes.


January 13th, 2009, 12:57 pm
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Nick wrote:
I have yet to be convinced that it can be framed in such a way to prevent feelings of obligation by the elderly and pressure from relatives. Until then, I'd say no to legal changes.
I'm not sure what exactly would be needed either, but it seems highly unlikely that any changes would be made without a lengthy public debate about this, including the form of safeguards that could be put in place and whether they would be adequate. However, the Petition to the Scottish Parliament is pushing for that debate and referendum on the issue.

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January 13th, 2009, 2:17 pm
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I don't live in Scotland, so feel I should not sign a petition, though I would sent a message to the Scottish Assembly separately. (I'm not sure if I'm being consistent here...Hmmm). If I did live in Scotland, I would not urge a referendum. First of all, the chance of a referendum on this matter is nil. Secondly, such a question (assisted suicide) should not be decided by such means, and thirdly, I consider the framing of suitable questions to be probably impossible anyway.

I am, however, pleased for the protagonists to press for change, since without the debate we are not going to progress from what is an unsatisfactory position. (Am I still being inconsistent?)


January 14th, 2009, 7:35 pm
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Quote:
Nick
(Am I still being inconsistent?)

Sorry Nick mate, you're starting to sound like a fundie who's trying to argue for the relevance of the bible....................................Well maybe not quite that bad :smile:
It's a very difficult topic.
I think the law as it stands now is OK, ie it's not legal to help someone commit suicide, but nobody gets prosecuted for it (do they?), if the time comes when I have had enough and want to end it, Mary would help (if I needed help) likewise, I would do the same for her.
Given the fact that nobody gets prosecuted for assisting a loved one to die, I think it's a non issue.
I don't think you should ask a third party to do the deed as it were, just for them to provide you or the person requesting it, the means to go quickly and painlessly, you know? Like we do for all other animals.

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January 14th, 2009, 8:46 pm
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Alan C. wrote:
Given the fact that nobody gets prosecuted for assisting a loved one to die, I think it's a non issue.
That should really be: "Given the fact that no one so far has been...

The issue with the Debbie Purdy case was that she wanted her husband to help, but wanted to ensure he was not prosecuted. As the law stands, he could well be prosecuted: there is no real precedent that gives any idea about what he can and cannot do to help her. The CPS does seem clear that helping someone travel to Switzerland will not be prosecuted (if only for pragmatic reasons), but just what help can you give before you overstep the mark? We need some guidance.

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January 14th, 2009, 9:17 pm
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