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Times "fails to accurately reflect" Congress vote

more: Letters, Medical Opinion, Letters/Medical Opinion

21st September 2023

Our Chief Executive writes in The Times, in the wake of a troubling Anaesthetists Association Congress in Edinburgh.

Published in The Times, 21 September 2023.

Assisted dying

Sir, Your headline "Four fifths of anaesthetists back assisted dying" (Scotland edition, Sep 14) fails to accurately reflect the questions asked. None of these asked "do you personally support assisted dying", rather delegates were asked what any law should entail. Liam McArthur 2 was given a platform to present the case for his proposed bill but the organisers refused to platform speakers opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia. The audience who wished to express opposition were prevented from doing so under threat from the chair of being removed by "bouncers".

No mention was made of the opposition to changing the law from doctors' groups, disability rights groups or the Glasgow Disability Alliance, which has warned that no amount of safeguarding will offer "enough protections and guarantees to stop disabled people being helped or pressured to die". Nor was there mention that some supporters of assisted suicide and euthanasia believe the changes will save money and increase organs for donation.

Dr Gordon Macdonald

CEO, Care Not Killing

Dr Gillian Wright, director of Our Duty of Care, was present at the Congress and has written about the experience:

"There is a great need for access to specialist palliative care, social care and psychological support across Scotland. Let's debate that. Let's discuss the calls for assisted suicide and the merits and the reasonable concerns. But we cannot shut down debate in the way that happened yesterday. Aggressive chairing. Express prohibition of personal opinion. Threat of bouncers. Not one panel member known to be opposed to the legislation. Leading questions in the polling of the audience such that any data was meaningless but fed to the press. These are ominous times if this is to be the pattern of public debate in Scotland."

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