30th October 2008
Dignity in Dying welcomes efforts to give people greater choice at the end of life in Scotland
Margo MacDonald, an Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament, has today announced her intention to table a Bill in the Scottish Parliament to “to incorporate the patient’s right to choose to end his or her life, with assistance”. She said “I believe that the law must change to protect not only dignity in death for patients, but also must ensure that medical staff are not coerced into helping a patient die before the natural end of life.”
Before introducing a Bill, Margo MacDonald MSP will launch a public consultation to encourage a debate in Scotland on end-of-life decision making, and whether it is a more humane approach should replace the current status quo.
Commenting on the announcement, Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“We know that people want greater choice at the end of life, and that the overwhelming majority of the public would like to see a change in the law. Despite access to good quality palliative care, the lack of a safeguarded choice forces some terminally ill people to travel abroad to end their suffering. There are also botched suicide attempts at home, ‘mercy killings’ and some doctors already assist their patients to die out of compassion, but at great potential cost to themselves.
“It is not acceptable to defend a status quo which condemns some terminally ill adults to unnecessary suffering against their wishes. We commend Margo MacDonald MSP. There is clearly an urgent need for a debate around assisted dying and it’s time that debate was had.
“The debate is increasingly not about whether we should change the law, but what form a new law should take. We need to talk about the safeguards required to allow us to promote choice whilst protecting vulnerable people.
“I am delighted that the Scottish people are able to contribute to this much needed debate. Dignity in Dying will do all that it can to ensure that this debate also takes place in England and Wales over the coming months.”
Ms MacDonald, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, said in a debate in the Scottish Parliament earlier in the year that she should be allowed to end her life if her debilitating condition became too painful to bear.
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. Alongside better quality end-of-life care and treatment, Dignity in Dying believes that terminally ill adults in unbearable suffering should have the option of an assisted death, subject to strict legal safeguards.
Notes to editor:
About Dignity in Dying:
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.
Please contact James Harris by telephone on 020 7479 7739 or 07766574447 or by email email@example.com