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200+ medics warn Scottish Health Secretary over assisted suicide

Assisted Suicide
6 July 2021
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More than 200 medical professionals in Scotland have written to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to raise concerns over assisted suicide.

A letter organised by doctors' group Our Duty Of Care signed by David Galloway, former president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, palliative medicine expert Professor Marie Fallon, and dozens of other doctors from various specialties, warns that assisted suicide would undermine the safety and wellbeing of patients.

The medics state that they "will not take patients’ lives- even if they ask us to", and urge Mr Yousaf not to support a change in the law "for the sake of us all". Read the full text of the letter below.

Dear Health Secretary

We write with great concern regarding the introduction of a Bill to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

The shift from preserving life to taking life is enormous and should not be minimised. The prohibition of killing is present in almost all civilised societies due to the immeasurable worth of every human life. Everyone has a right to life under Article 1 of The Human Rights Act 1998 such that no one should be deprived of that life intentionally.

Canada has clearly demonstrated that safeguards can be eroded in a matter of just five years. The prohibition of killing is the safeguard. The current law is the protection for the vulnerable. Any change would threaten society’s ability to safeguard vulnerable patients from abuse, it would undermine the trust the public places in physicians, would send a clear message to our frail, elderly and disabled patients about the value that society places on them as people.

Far from one person’s decision affecting no one else, it affects us all. Some patients may never consider assisted suicide unless it was suggested to them. The cruel irony of this path is that legislation introduced with the good intention of enhancing patient choice will diminish the choices of the most vulnerable. I in 60 deaths in Belgium now occur with no consent from the patient- those in coma, confused, or the elderly- are euthanised because their lives are considered not ‘worth living’.

As health care professionals, we have a legal duty of care for the safety and wellbeing of our patients. We the undersigned will not take patients’ lives- even if they ask us to. But for the sake of us all, we ask that the law remains unchanged.

Yours sincerely,

200+ medics
Letter to Humza Yousaf MSP Our Duty of Care

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Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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