Care Not Killing ENewsletter, December 2010Scottish Euthanasia Bill defeated
Margo MacDonald’s End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill was defeated by a massive 85-16 margin at its first stage debate on 1 December. As a result the bill has now fallen. The vote followed a report from the Parliamentary committee on 18 November, which scrutinised the bill and recommended that it be dropped. On the same day, 22,000 postcards from CNK supporters were delivered to MSPs at Parliament. Ms Macdonald spent much of her opening and closing speeches addressing the CNK campaign and has vowed to bring another bill back after the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May.
New Commission on Assisted Dying
Lord Falconer, who attempted unsuccessfully in 2009 to legalise assisted suicide by way of an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill, has now set up a new private Commission on Assisted Dying in an attempt to influence Parliament’s views. The Commission has already attracted wide criticism for bias. Nine of the twelve commissioners, including four doctors and five parliamentarians, are already known to support the legalisation of assisted suicide with so-called ‘strict safeguards’. The idea came from Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and it is being part-funded by DID patron Terry Pratchett. Along with others, CNK has declined to give evidence to the Commission.
Frances Inglis, 57, who gave her brain-damaged son, Thomas, a lethal heroin injection has lost her appeal against her murder conviction. However, her minimum prison term was reduced from nine years to five. Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that her appeal against the conviction was ‘not arguable’. Lord Judge said: ‘...however disabled Thomas might have been, a disabled life, even a life lived at the extremes of disability, is not one jot less precious than the life of an able-bodied person.’
UK highest quality of death
The UK is ranked top of the table in its provision of end-of-life care. The Economist Intelligence Unit has devised a ‘Quality of Death’ Index which measures the current environment for end-of-life care services across 40 countries. The UK is noted as having ‘led the way globally in terms of its hospice care network and statutory involvement in end-of-life care.’ This is good news, but there is still more to be done; let’s keep supporting and promoting excellent palliative care.
Living and Dying Well
A new Parliamentary based public policy think-tank, Living and Dying Well, has been launched with a view to provide evidence-based information to better inform both Parliament and the public on issues surrounding assisted suicide. Read their first publications here.
Healthcare Professionals for Change
October 13 saw Dignity in Dying launch ‘Healthcare Professionals for Change’. This is a small but vocal minority of those involved in the healthcare profession, who support a relaxation in the law on assisted suicide. The new body has now changed its name to ‘Health Professionals for Assisted Dying’. Organisations and individuals in the healthcare profession remain overwhelmingly opposed to any weakening of the law. Nevertheless, such new groups show how important it is that those in the profession who are opposed to such a change remain vocal and active in this crucial area of the debate.
On Thursday 1 July, the BMA debated ethics at its annual representative meeting (ARM). A motion promoting training and education in palliative care was passed by the majority - a decision fully supported by the CNK Alliance. The full motion read as follows:
That this Meeting, recognising that persistent requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia are very rare when patients' physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs are being appropriately met, calls on the BMA to campaign for:
(i) better training in palliative medicine for all GPs and hospital doctors involved in managing dying patients;
(ii) better education of the public about what good palliative care can achieve.
Care Not Killing DVDs
Our most recent DVD 'Disabled people speak on assisted dying' is now available on request. Speakers including Matt Hampson and Alison Davis share their powerful personal stories and their concerns about legalising assisted suicide. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy. Don't forget, copies of our earlier DVD 'Doctors speak on assisted dying' are also available.
Any future voting on assisted suicide in Parliament will be one of individual conscience, so please contact your new local MP, to make your views known to them and to find out where they stand on the issue. Why not follow it up by arranging to speak to them in person? Before becoming Prime minister, David Cameron wisely spoke out against any relaxation of the UK law on assisted suicide. Please write a short email or letter to express your support for him taking this stance.
As the risks of any weakening in the law in relation to Assisted Suicide become increasingly highlighted, a number of you are writing to the Care Not Killing Alliance with your own experience of why you feel the law is best kept as it is.
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Thank you for your continued support and action! And a very happy Christmas and New Year to you, from all at the