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Support for the End of Life Assistance Bill

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Hello

Thoughts about the proposed End of Life Assistance Bill?

BBC NEWS: Assisted suicide bill published by MSP Margo MacDonald

I'm fully behind it, despite my Catholic background (we're pretty keen on dragging out the deaths of terminally ill people), to the point I've started a Facebook page for it.

Facebook: Support for the Scottish End of Life Assistance Bill

Well?

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Personally I want to squeeze every last miserable second out of what's left of my existence...and if that means I'm (more of) a dribbling, incontinent burden then fine by me, but I'm not a fan of pain, so I support the bill.

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Because humans aren't dogs.

So we take steps to end the suffering of a dog, cat or hamster, but a human being must see out their days in excruciating pain or lose control of all their faculties, and somehow that is more humane?

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As a whole we should just be left to rot and let the animals deal with the scraps.

Seems I'm in miserable cynic mode today. 21 going on 60 . That'll do fine.

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Well, I suppose that's the logical extension of a euthanasia bill. First you get rid of the sick, and the old, then you start thinking about how else things can be improved with a few more state-sanctioned deaths. It's a slippery slope.

I seriously doubt the Scottish Government would go genocide on our asses.

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They really aren't.

Introducing legislation that would give doctors the legal right to terminate the lives of their patients is a horrific idea. You can't equate the treatment a dumb animal may receive at the vet's to the care given to human beings by doctors. You would oppose treating humans as animals in any other circumstance, why support it in this one?

Sometimes dogs become one of the family

let people what are ill with possibility of dying choose whether they sanction euthanasia on themselfs

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Well, I suppose that's the logical extension of a euthanasia bill. First you get rid of the sick, and the old, then you start thinking about how else things can be improved with a few more state-sanctioned deaths. It's a slippery slope.

I did study a fair bit about this at uni as part of a course on health and human rights and the "slippery slope" argument is always a valid consideration. I would really have to scrutinise the bill myself to form an opinion on it, something I'm unlikely to do because I don't quite care enough personally, but a glance at the link provided in the first post put my mind at ease slightly by virtue of the proposed law not allowing those with degenerative mental illnesses to have assisted deaths, because they would be particularly vulnerable to coercion by parties with nefarious motives. However, it is still concerning that those who aren't mentally disabled, but who may be vulnerable all the same, would be at risk of coercion, such as people who are perhaps in an emotionally vulnerable position.

All in all, it's a little more complicated than people on this forum are making out, and having strong reservations about such a bill is not indicative of a lack of compassion for human suffering, but in fact quite the opposite.

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Introducing legislation that would give doctors the legal right to terminate the lives of their patients is a horrific idea. You can't equate the treatment a dumb animal may receive at the vet's to the care given to human beings by doctors. You would oppose treating humans as animals in any other circumstance, why support it in this one?

Why is it horrific?

The role of the medical profession should be to alleviate pain and suffering, not prolong it.

There is nothing dignified or compassionate about allowing people with terminal illnesses to waste away into empty shells which bear only a physical resemblance to the person who people would once have known.

Nobody is insinuating that this would be applied universally to all people who end up with a terminal illness, but if I was to be diagnosed with an incurable disease, which would lead to me effectively dying inside before the shell I occupy was gone, then I know I would rather leave the planet with some dignity intact, and not become a burden upon family and society.

Interestingly, in 2006, the US Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act by the Bush administration.

In terms of concern about abuse of system etc. we don't have a system of assisted suicide in place at present, yet people like Harold Shipman were still able to carry out their murders.

The ability for legislation to be abused is not an excuse not to legislate, yes there needs to be careful consideration to the potential, but if the implementation of a law was contingent upon it never being broken or abused, then we would have no laws. (cue the anarchists responding in the positive)

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Why is it horrific?

The role of the medical profession should be to alleviate pain and suffering, not prolong it.

There is nothing dignified or compassionate about allowing people with terminal illnesses to waste away into empty shells which bear only a physical resemblance to the person who people would once have known.

To quote the Hippocratic Oath;

"I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan"

The medical profession has been up in arms about this, since the Hippocratic Oath has been the foundation of Medical Practice for so long. Also their are (substantiated in my opinion) fears that patients won't trust doctors as much if doctors are given the right to end the life of a person in such a way.

Granted thanks to the whole double effect principle, doctors can shorten life in certain circumstances. A key principle of current end of live care is to relieve suffering. Basically they just give a very high dose of morphine that, while obviously relieving pain, has the other side effects of suppressing breathing etc. In effect it shortens their life, but the primary principle is to relieve suffering, so it can be justified. The other use of this is the whole withdrawal of treatment issue.

The difference is that Euthanasia is actively ending life. It's not giving a treatment to relieve suffering,

I do agree with the compassion argument. If I was in that situation I suspect I would want to feel the same. However, as someone who will be a doctor in less than 3 years fi I pass exams etc. I wouldn't want to do it. I don't know another medic in my year that would want to either. Although we deal with and see death frequently, it certainly does not give us the motivation to kill someone, no matter what suffering they go through.. I know the bill has the opt out clause for those who object, but I can't imagine many doctors who would actually want to do this.

The bill has good features, the psychiatric assessment to ensure patients are of sound mind is obviously a good idea, as is the 15 day cooling off period where they have the opportunity to change their mind.

I've had plenty of ethics discussions about this, but am yet to actually read the bill, so I may do so. But my gut instinct is in it's current form I wouldn't back it. However I do back the principle that people should have the right in certain circumstances. It's just those circumstances are very hard to define without exposing yourself to the whole slippery slope of who is and isn't eligible as has been mentioned.

In terms of concern about abuse of system etc. we don't have a system of assisted suicide in place at present, yet people like Harold Shipman were still able to carry out their murders.

Shipman was an exceptional case. I think he was the first doctor to actually be murdering patients for the best part of 50 years. For that reason, and based on the numbers who have been doctors in that period, I'd like to think our professional integrity and compassion as human beings would stop us from using this law for malevolent purposes. Changes have been made to the profession since Shipman to try and stop it happening again. Although, to be honest I don't think they would stop someone from doing it again if they wanted to. Such people are going to kill if they are doctors or not, and I don't think any feasable levels of scrutiny in the profession would stop them..

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I read somewhere that the majority of people who go see these Swiss death doctors wanting to die don't actually go through with it, either because they change their mind or the doctor refuses. It's a strict, structured and gradual process. Not just a case of filling in a form and getting a jab from your GP. Numerous consultations and extended stays in treatment facilities are involved. Just the fact that the law exists gives people an 'option' when it seems everything else in their life is out of their control and in the case of Switzerland, it certainly doesn't just mean people are getting dropped left right and centre. It's almost like the ultimate form of counselling, in that there is a definite end choice; either live with it or don't.

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It's a slippery slope.

I don't see why a bill allowing people to make a decision about their own life is "a slippery slope". I've heard that sound bite a few times now and I think it's really weak.

To my mind the background to this debate can be distilled into one simple point: You either believe a human being should have the right to decide when their life should end or you don't.

If you are of the first point of view you need to decided under exactly what circumstances that should be allowed and with what safeguards in place to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

If you are of the second point of view then I think it is up to you to explain exactly why and not resort to vague scaremongering like the above.

There's always the chance someone like the person I was responding to will get in a position to abuse the power granted to them by the government, though.

Again, I don't think this debate should move to include possible dystopian futures created from fantasy elements in your own imagination.

Back on topic please. ;)

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Which is the greater sin, though? Allowing someone to remain in that state, or extending the right, in the fullest sense of the word, to kill people to members of the medical profession? I feel that greater suffering would come about as a result of doctors terminating patients in order to meet quotas and work to budgets.

Do you seriously think doctors would go to that length to meet quotas or budgets? That is a pretty cynical view. The GMC would NEVER allow such decisions to be based purely on financial reasons, and I'm pretty sure the NHS wouldn't either. Their is a massive difference between resource allocation, withdrawing or withholding treatment and actually ending people's lives to save money.

Shipman did what he thought was the right thing. If he had been a doctor today, and we extended the right to kill his patients to him, how many more would he have murdered? Do you think Shipman's the only one? Even if he is an extreme case, some doctors have a level of detatchment that borders on the psychopathic.

As I said, first doctor in nearly 50 years. Remember this bill is NOT based solely on the opinions of doctors. A psychiatric assessment has to be made as well. I fully realise a doctor could put words into someone's mouth to pass a test of whether they are of sound mind or not, but at best I think it's unlikely. Plus emotional detachment is hardly the same as wanting to end someone's life. Then i'm pretty sure doctors need a lot of emotional detachment, I've never been in the position myself but if one of your patients dies, especially if it is due to an iatrogenic cause or a mistake, I would imagine it's difficult to just waltz along happily to the next patient as if nothing happened.

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The crux of the matter isn't the ability of people deciding to end their own life, it's doctors having the right to terminate the lives of others.

No, it absolutely isn't. The right belongs to the patient, to have someone assist them in carrying out THEIR wishes.

If someone ends their own life, then they should not involve anyone else in their actions.

If you respond to anything here, please just respond to this. Is suicide acceptable for medical reasons if you don't involve a third person?

Discussing the potential implications of the bill is perfectly valid

That's not what you were discussing - you were talking about "a slippery slope" and what might happen if someone came into power who might change the system in some nightmarish fashion and doctor serial killers...

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The crux of the matter isn't the ability of people deciding to end their own life, it's doctors having the right to terminate the lives of others.

The crux of the matter is both these things. Some people believe it is their right to be able to die and not allowing doctors to carry out the best possible procedure to allow them to do so, when it is deemed to be the only solution, is denying them that right.

You either believe an individual taking the life of another who is no physical threat to them murder, or it isn't.

where does full knowing consent come into your definition of murder? To some that is where the killing of a person becomes end of life assistance and therefore this statement doesn't hold true for everybody, there'd need to be a bit tacked on "in certain situations".

I don't advocate doctors murdering patients. If someone ends their own life, then they should not involve anyone else in their actions. I don't think questioning the wisdom of giving the right to kill fellow humans to members of the medical profession is scaremongering, especially as we all know that abuse of the system could be prolific and severe. The governance of our health and social care is in a shocking state, and I have no confidence that this proposed system of state-sanctioned murder would be properly implemented or regulated.

There is scope for abusing the system in everything doctors do. Something as serious as assisted death I am confident would be heavily scrutinised, more so than anything else. To believe euthanasia is morally wrong is completely understandable but validating your argument by questioning the safe deployment of the system based on no evidence is scaremongering. I'd reconsider my stance if I saw any documented abuse of a enuthanasia system. It seems to work just fine in Switzerland.

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I don't advocate doctors murdering patients. If someone ends their own life, then they should not involve anyone else in their actions.

I think you are missing the point of the bill here tbh. The people who often wish to die in these circumstances are the very ones unable to commit suicide. It is those who get so frail and helpless they rely on others for their most basic human functions to be carried out who feel so worthless in such a circumstance.

How exactly do you propose they commit suicide? Lets say you have motor nueron disease... I choose this as thanks to Stephen Hawking it is very well known the effects. I should also state that with the caveat it affects most people a lot more quickly than it did him.

So, you can't feed yourself pills to take an overdose, stab yourself, strangle yourself or anything. In those circumstances suicide is not an option. It would ONLY be possible if someone else assisted. As you will be aware we do not have a suicide act in Scotland. So you cannot be charged with assisted suicide, You are charged with Culpable Homicide. The legal implications of that are very severe if it goes to trial and they are found guilty.

I don't think questioning the wisdom of giving the right to kill fellow humans to members of the medical profession is scaremongering, especially as we all know that abuse of the system could be prolific and severe. The governance of our health and social care is in a shocking state, and I have no confidence that this proposed system of state-sanctioned murder would be properly implemented or regulated.

Your arguments seem all based on speculation and the assumption that their are more psychopaths and mischevious wrongdoers in the medical profession than the evidence suggests. I would like to see proof of how any substantial number of doctors would do wrong. The GMC is fully transparent with its disciplinary procedures and who is being investigated and struck off.

If anything Doctors aren't that frightening. It's the Nurses that administer medication in hospitals. God forbid they could be giving patients too many tablets and overdosing them! Yet I don't see any suggestion they are all out to do harm. With the advent of nurse practitioners and nurses giving immunisations etc, I wouldn't be surprised if nurses ended up in this process of Euthanasia. They are perfectly capable of doing so.

Finally on what grounds is the NHS in a 'shocking state'? No one has the illusion it's perfect, and everyone knows it's far from being so. But at the same time it seems nowhere near as bad as you are making out.

It's easier for some than it is for others, though, wouldn't you agree? Desensitization to the emotions involved and the normalisation of the process of inflicting death would also come into play in certain individuals. I don't think the human element has been fully taken into consideration in this bill.

Of course it is easier for others, but I still do not see how desensitisation and normalisation will lead to a desire to kill in a sane individual. I know every is not sane and well adjusted, but these people are few and far between. We are undeniably primal creatures under certain circumstances, but those are mostly motivated by emotions and addictive substances (alcohol, drugs etc). Those that seek to do harm outside of those are rare. I know the forensic pathologist who deals with all the murders and instances of medical neglect in Aberdeen. We average less than 10 murders a year here. Most of the crime in Aberdeen is linked to the things I mentioned before. In the absence of those factors it is only the true criminally insane who kill. How many of these people end up in one of the most competetive careers out there? It was bloody hard for me to get into medical school, if I was a killer would I go to that effort and do 5 years at uni just to cover up my acts?

The human element has been considered to an extent, hence the double assessment of patients by 2 individuals of differing profession (perhaps more could be added though) and also the cooling off period. It's not a case of 'I want to die' then that's you dead 10 minutes later.

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The pre-meditated killing of someone who is no physical threat to you or others is murder, regardless of whether the act is consensual or not. There can be no conditions attached without fatally undermining the sanctity of the right to life.

Perhaps by the dictionary definition it is but the moral debate revolves around that grey area that people either agree exists or not depending on your viewpoint. The word murder carries connotations that to my mind aren't applicable to termination of life in a medical environment.

Exactly why we shouldn't give them the right to kill their patients. if the systems designed to eliminate the risk of abuse happening in these cases fail, and people who didn't want to die do so prematurely at the hands of others, then that would be a tragedy that would far outweigh the suffering felt by those who are terminally ill who can't take their own life.

The abusing of the system you are talking about here would presumably be a doctor killing a patient without their permission. I don't see that as a likely possibility and can't imagine a situation where it could happen, barring a rogue nutter. Which means it is no less likely to happen now. To me, euthanasia means allowing a trained professional assist in carrying out your suicide, not giving doctors the right to kill those they deem untreatable.

Your confidence in the current legislators of this country, and the people who run our health and social care services is admirable, but i'm afraid I don't share it, given the dog's breakfast they make of almost everything else.

Most things in Britain are shoddily run, of course they are, but in a literal life or death situation like this where there is absolutely no margin of error and any mistake would be inexcusable, I do place confidence in those charged with running the system that would be put in place.

Just look at the state of the NHS at the moment, isn't that evidence enough?

Not evidence entirely relevant to this debate. A lack of hospital beds and long waiting lists and the like are not indicators that a euthanasia scheme could not be put in place safely. Considering the success of British medicine in other areas like cancer treatment you could equally point to such a system working. The only thing I would consider referring to to provide evidence either way is how abortions are carried out in this country. What are the faults in that system? Where have mistakes been made?

This isn't Switzerland. Lots of things work well in other countries that it would be madness to introduce here.

But by looking at how things are done elsewhere we can learn how practices could be adapted and then applied in our country. Like anything that we don't have and other countries do.

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Perhaps by the dictionary definition it is but the moral debate revolves around that grey area that people either agree exists or not depending on your viewpoint. The word murder carries connotations that to my mind aren't applicable to termination of life in a medical environment.

The abusing of the system you are talking about here would presumably be a doctor killing a patient without their permission. I don't see that as a likely possibility and can't imagine a situation where it could happen, barring a rogue nutter. Which means it is no less likely to happen now. To me, euthanasia means allowing a trained professional assist in carrying out your suicide, not giving doctors the right to kill those they deem untreatable.

Most things in Britain are shoddily run, of course they are, but in a literal life or death situation like this where there is absolutely no margin of error and any mistake would be inexcusable, I do place confidence in those charged with running the system that would be put in place.

Not evidence entirely relevant to this debate. A lack of hospital beds and long waiting lists and the like are not indicators that a euthanasia scheme could not be put in place safely. Considering the success of British medicine in other areas like cancer treatment you could equally point to such a system working. The only thing I would consider referring to to provide evidence either way is how abortions are carried out in this country. What are the faults in that system? Where have mistakes been made?

But by looking at how things are done elsewhere we can learn how practices could be adapted and then applied in our country. Like anything that we don't have and other countries do.

Wanted to rep you for making all the arguments I wanted to make but more articulately than I ever could.

There's a facebook page in support of this. Pretty sure I put it on the first page, if I didn't, I'm being dim and I will link it if anyone wants to join.

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Suicide is the prerogative of the individual. So, yes, as long as it doesn't involve a third person. Or indeed, a second.

Aye, I was in a rush to get out last night. But see below...

The people who often wish to die in these circumstances are the very ones unable to commit suicide.

And I think that's a crucial point.

You do believe in an individual's right to die but only if they meet your criteria of being capable and resourceful enough to do it on their own.

If they cannot and a doctor agrees to assist them' date=' is it your position that the doctor should then be prosecuted for murder?

I find it interesting you're taking me to task about this, rather than the person I was responding to who was advocating killing healthy people...

I disagree with what you're saying Dave, but I do think your posts are worth a serious response. I suggest the person who was advocating killing healthy people was not being entirely serious but I am very pleased to hear that you're healthy.

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Guest droid

Question

What about someone who is in a Persistent vegetative state with an irreversible brain injury,that has no quality of life?Where do y'all stand on this one,i'm interested to know.

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