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Reservation on End of Life Bill

more: Articles, Scotland, Articles/Scotland

25th October 2010

I have one reservation on Isobel Lindsay's support for Margo MacDonald's End of Life Assistance Bill (Letters, September 21). As Ms Lindsay said, the able-bodied can end their lives at a time of their choosing, so why should this be denied to those handicapped by physical inability?

That is the crux of the matter. Were I physically handicapped, I would need the compliance of at least one other, and that is the difficulty.

I have known some suicides. In each case the act was carried out by the individual in secret. The Swiss service, Dignitas, has been shown on TV with a prepared potion made available to the patient, but the act of drinking is still independent. Some patients would not be able to do even that unaided.

For a near relative whom I judged to be in extreme and unrelenting distress, I could be persuaded to help, but not otherwise. My brother was such a case. He had a terminal stroke and found the burden of life just too much. He asked me for help and, had it been in my power, I would have considered it a humane course. It was a relief to us that he did not suffer long.

I wish Margo MacDonald well with her Bill, but that is the easy part. Implementation is not. I could not be persuaded to help except for a close relative, but I imagine many close relatives would not, and an unrelated helper may not have the patient's interest at heart. The Dignitas procedure in such a deeply personal and final act is a bit too dispassionately clinical for me.

Michael Hamilton, Letters, The Herald, 23 September © 2010, Herald & Times Group

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