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CNK and ODOC respond to Scottish bill

more: Submissions, Scotland, Submissions/Scotland, Legislation, Submissions/Legislation

22nd December 2021

Read the joint submission of Care Not Killing and Our Duty of Care to the Scottish Parliament consultation concerning a proposed assisted suicide bill.

CNK and ODOC respond to Scottish bill

Liam McArthur MSP intends to introduce an "Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill" at Holyrood, and as part of the process was obliged to open a public consultation on its proposed terms. We have been encouraging supporters to respond individually, and we now publish our response, drafted and submitted jointly with allied healthcare professionals as represented by Our Duty of Care (ODOC).

The bill is aimed at persons aged 16 or over with a terminal illness, which for the purposes of the Bill would be understood as:

"that suffered by those who are deemed by doctors as 'unable to recover', regardless of the time they have left to live."

In our submission, you will see that we pay particular attention to

  • the looseness of this definition and its inevitable inclusion of a great many disabled people
  • the inefficacy of conscience protections for doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • the requirement that assisted suicides be concealed on public records
  • the assertion that the legalisation of assisted suicide need not be held back until palliative care is no longer inaccessible for thousands of people every year who would benefit from it

Ultimately, we conclude that:

"It is clear to us that the proposal placed before the Scottish Parliament would indeed set a new standard, but only by lowering the bar. The proposal would add a cheap "treatment option" without first ensuring equitable access to life-changing palliative care, and create a two-tier approach to suicide prevention: some lives henceforth will be worthy of saving, their suicides prevented, but once an individual is given a certain diagnosis, the state will consider their suicides to be reasonable and worthy of facilitation. Specific mention has been made of the experience of Covid 19, in the course of which we have seen healthcare professionals go above and beyond to fight for patients, but we have also seen DNACPRs applied to older and seriously ill patients, and people with learning disabilities, without individual assessment or consent... The lessons of this pandemic should be to strive for innovation in saving and valuing each individual, and to reject easy value judgements. This proposal's counsel of despair should be rejected by the Scottish Parliament, with instead a renewed focus on ensuring equitable access to life-changing palliative care and support for living."

© Image copyright of Magnus Hagdorn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License 2.0

READ/DOWNLOAD: CNK-ODOC Scottish Bill SubmissionREAD/DOWNLOAD: CNK-ODOC Scottish Bill Submission

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