Friday, 22 January 2010

The Right To Die



Margo MacDonald is the only Independent MSP in the Scottish Parliament. For many years she was a member of the SNP but after internal rows she departed and stood as an Independent.

Margo MacDonald suffers from Parkinson's disease and yesterday, in the Scottish Parliament, she unveiled her The End of Life Assistance Bill after months of consultation.

"Dying is a part of living, it's the last act of your life and if we accept the responsibility of how we live our lives, then I really fail to see where there is any demarcation of how we should die.

"This Bill is meant to try and redress that unfairness, to give those people the autonomy to exercise some control over how they die, to give them the legal right to seek assistance and to protect the people who give assistance."

Terminally ill or severely disabled patients as young as 16 will be able to seek help to end their lives in Scotland under the proposals in the Bill and it would make Scotland the first country in the UK to legalise assisted suicide. The person must have been registered with a GP in Scotland for at least 18 months, two formal requests must have been made and approved by the medical practitioner and they must have a meeting with a psychiatrist.

Ms MacDonald said the Bill did not apply to people with dementia because they would not be able to go through the process unless they were "in full control of their faculties."

At present in Scotland anyone helping another person to commit suicide can be prosecuted for culpable homicide and to avoid ending up in court they would have to travel to a country such as Switzerland where it is not an offence.

The Catholic Church vows to block the Bill saying 'the legislation would cross a moral boundary that no society should ever breach."

MSPs and Scottish government ministers will be allowed a free vote on the Bill.

The journey of this Bill will certainly encourage debate on an issue which many choose to ignore. Once you retire and have attended a few funerals of your peers, it's inevitable you look towards your own end and the effects a terminal illness or permanent incapacity could have upon your family and yourself. With my own father I watched his pain and suffering during his last months in Dundee hospice where he died of prostate cancer. After that experience I will never be convinced that pain can be relieved to any great degree no matter what experts tell me.

I have yet to read the Bill in any real depth, but having listened carefully to the debate so far, I would support Margo's proposals.

Word of this Bill has even reached deepest England where Dick Puddlecote makes his contribution.

Source along with others.




31 comments:

Bugger said...

The Roman Catholic Church can take the opposition to this Bill and shove it!

They have no right over me and absolutely no right over my body.

For religion, all religions I have come across, the ultimate heresy is the declaration of individuality, the right to a very personal self determination.

That is why they promise an eternity in some sort of damnation for those who dare think for themselves and reject their, the religions', moral superiority and self given right to control us.


They have conspired to control and repress the peoples since time immemorial.


All for riches and power.

What a great business mode, selling debentures in Club Paradiso PLC that can only be cashed in once we are dead.

And if there is no Paradise, that it is all a scam, the suckers can hardly come back and ask for their money and stolen hopes back.

Has anyone actually come back to tell us how great this Club Paradiso is?

A pox on them all.

Bugger said...

Has anyone been prosecuted to Culpable Homicide recently because they aided someone to commit suicide?

Witterings From Witney said...

Agree SR with the general thrust of B's argument above.

As he says it is our body and our decision. This ties in with the recent case of the mother who injected her son with heroin. Who can know how she, as a Mother, felt?

JRB said...

Morning Subrosa

I feel, and fear, that this will be a highly emotive subject, nonetheless I do hope that it can be discussed in a considered and considerate manner.

Margo MacDonald deserves due recognition for having strength of character to bring these proposals to discussion, after all, death remains the last great taboo.

I am disappointed at the dogmatic approach of the Catholic church. They do not speak for all of Scotland. They certainly do not speak for me.
I hope other national organisations, such as the churches, pause for reflection before pontificating.

End of Life Assistance sounds so much better than assisted suicide. Suicide still carries the stigma of an act of wanton selfishness.
End of life should be approached with respect and dignity.

For myself, I know what my future brings, and I am in full support of Ms MacDonald’s Bill.

I hope that I never have to opt for such a choice, but it would be reassuring knowing that I could.

subrosa said...

Well said Bug. I was hoping someone would voice my own thoughts about religious interference in this.

Of course nobody has come back, they're deid!!

subrosa said...

Not that I know of Bug but Margo wants it in black and white which I can understand.

subrosa said...

A difficult comparison WfW because Margo is saying the Bill would only apply to those who were deemed mentally fit to make the decision.

True. Nobody can understand that mother's anguish. There but for the grace of God...

Witterings From Witney said...

Fair comment SR, and in the case I mentioned the mother was not mentally fit? What about the 'hurt' and 'pain' the mother felt about someone she 'carried' and brought into this world?
Emotive subject as has been said.

Lallands Peat Worrier said...

On the primary point raised in yon Scotsman article - the Catholic Church really is 'at it', with their legal arguments. I mentioned a while back that Care Not Killing were attempting a symmetrical legalistic opposition case. If you consult the ECHR materials, however, in the context of Belgium and the Netherlands' pre-existing structure sanctioning assisted dying - there really is no justification for their position.

http://lallandspeatworrier.blogspot.com/2010/01/assisted-dying-catholic-legal-bunkum.html

subrosa said...

Good afternoon John. I too hope it will be debated with the respect it deserves and Margo should be applauded for bringing a taboo subject to the table.

As you say it would be reassuring to have the choice. I know you're position is very different to mine, but I don't know if you'll agree that 'being a burden' can be quite a vital part of someone's thinking when they are terminally ill or permanently incapacitated. I know it played much on my father's mind that family travelled many miles each day to visit him.

Such was his distress at times that I decided to miss alternate days for a while. Being an active and intelligent man who was by then totally bedbound and in pain, he had nothing else to think about other than his family and friends who visited. His quality of life was dreadful but of course there were the Righteous around who insisted he was pain free.

It's my hope MSPs take note this is a moral decision not a religious one, although for some both may be intertwined.

Stewart Cowan said...

Sorry, Rosie, unusually, I have to disagree on this one. The words 'slope' and 'slippery' spring to mind.

Abortion was originally for exceptional cases and now there are 200,000 a year, 98% of which are for 'social reasons'. Any form of euthanasia *will* lead to people being killed without their consent and others who seek death now would have recovered, like suicidally depressed people.

Strathturret said...

Although I respect Margo's position, I too disagree with this proposal. I feel that there is a slippery slope here.

I've always suspected that the medical profession 'assisted' death when they think life is worthless.

Edgar said...

Stewart's comparison with abortion is fallacious. A foetus is incapable of giving assent. The rights and wrongs of abortion are entirely irrelevant to this argument because it is constructed on the premise that those who are to die are both willing to do so and are capable of consenting to it in a convincing manner.

tris said...

I respect people's wishes not to have their lives stopped short regardless of the condition to which they deteriorate. If this is because of religion so be it

I would think that all the objectors have to do is write a living will that says that under no circumstances, no matter what their lives become should they EVER be put to death.

Currently the relatively well off can go to Switzerland, and the poor can experiment with an overdoze of pain killers.

It is an imbalance between rich and poor that could relatively easily be rectified.

Bravo Margo.

Stewart Cowan said...

Edgar, the point I was making was this. Abortion was meant to be a last resort thing, as is 'assisted suicide'. As abortion is completely out of control, so might euthanasia be in a couple of decades. Slippery slopes.

"A foetus is incapable of giving assent."

True, which is why it deserves the right to live in order to then agree or disagree with Mrs MacDonald whether or not to kill him/herself.

I would say that a human being from fertilised egg to death's door should be allowed to live.

The State has become like a death cult. Many cultures used to sacrifice children to appease the gods. Now we sacrifice unborn children to appease the gods of nature and convenience. We think we're civilised.

Next, it's the old and disabled for the chop. As if our old folk freezing to death in their homes in winter isn't barbaric enough.

subrosa said...

Lallands, thanks so much for the link. I knew I'd read something somewhere but didn't look through your archives. My apologies. Lesson learned.

subrosa said...

It's not an easy one Stewart I must admit. Some suicidally depressed folk never recover Stewart, sadly.

Tonight I hope to read more of the proposals although I think the fact that people will be killed without their consent is way over the top.

Without going into detail I do know there are medics sympathetic to the terminally ill etc. Thank goodness for that too I say.

We don't let animals suffer do we? What we should be concentrating on is ensuring those nearer death (ie 65+ or whatever) make their arrangements for their death.

I've seen far too many families torn apart because parents refused to even discuss whether they wanted buried or cremated. A perfect way to ensure your family has a little guilt all their lives.

subrosa said...

My experience is different Strathturret. I suspect many medics assist when their patient tells them they want to go.

subrosa said...

I would agree abortion can't be compared Edgar, so I didn't respond to Stewart on that one. It's another issue altogether and one in which I do have very strong views.

So Stewart, beware. :)

subrosa said...

The living will business is fine Tris as far as it goes but it can be translated ambiguously my lawyer said, no matter how well it's written.

I could afford to go to Switzerland but I wouldn't go. That's my choice and I have my reasons, so I would hate to think money entered into it at all. Money causes enough misery in this life as it is.

subrosa said...

Stewart, I'll have a discussion with you another time about abortion. You have a typical male majority opinion.

Suffice to say I think Margo's Bill is a lot tighter than David Steele's abortion Bill. If it had been better thought out there wouldn't have been the many loopholes seen today.

subrosa said...

I think I'd rather die from the choice of a pill rather than hypothermia Stewart. Mind you perhaps others will disagree.

That's what this is about, discussing where we stand even at the beginning.

I wonder, as the Bill progresses, will any of us change our minds?

Stewart Cowan said...

I can take a robust discussion, Rosie. I don't call the police if someone upsets me!

I think how society treats its old people and its unborn will determine to a certain extent how it treats the rest of us in between.

And bear in mind that the prevailing humanist ethos is determining more and more what shape that society takes.

Many humanists believe that quality of life is more important than life itself. I call that a very dangerous starting point!

Dick Puddlecote said...

Ta for the link, my caledonian squirrel nutkin. :-)

subrosa said...

Stewart yer a man after my own principles! We'll have a debate on abortion no doubt but this one is about the choice of ending your life with dignity or lying in a hospital or a hospice rotting and with no value of life as we know it.

subrosa said...

My pleasure you big puddle. :)

Stewart Cowan said...

Legalising euthanasia will result in reducing the value of human life. Abortion has already had this effect. Some girls think it is a form of contraception. More nutters will probably go round feeling justified in killing old folk for their pensions because they know other old people who chose to end it and so believe life is cheap and the old aren't interested in living anyway.

I've seen people close to me suffering at the end of their lives too and maybe I will one day in like manner, but I still say 'no' to euthanasia because of the knock-on effects.

There is pain when a child comes into the world and sometimes there's also pain at the departing. I think we need to appreciate the gift of life and when the end comes, see it through - for the sake of the team: humanity!

George Laird said...

Dear All

I see that in a poll of MSPs regarding Margo MacDonald's bill most are opposed.

This bad attempt at law should fall.

And I am glad.

Politicians are supposed to help improve the quality of life.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

subrosa said...

Thanks for your contribution George. Maybe your opinion will become less stringent in years to come. I do hope so. If you see the indignity of some in their last months you may change your mind.

Oh I read somewhere recently somewhere in the region of 8,000 of us a year die of bedsores. Grand eh?

George Laird said...

Dear Subrosa

You seem to be talking about lack of care.

A matter for Parliament to address and correct.

I wouldn't be changing my mind on this issue in the future, it isn't a human right to want to kill yourself.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

subrosa said...

It's a human right to have a dignified end George and so many don't.

I've lived far longer than you and seen a lot more I suppose.

Much rather I choose when I want to die than have others decided they'll keep me going by artificial means.

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