The Swiss assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas, has come out in support of removing protections against assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill in Scotland.
The organisation currently runs assisted suicide clinics in Switzerland and Germany. If assisted suicide was introduced to Scotland, this could create a potential new market for the organisation, enabling them to expand by opening up a new clinic in Scotland.
The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) bill proposed by Liberal Democrat MSP, Liam McArthur, was launched earlier this year and would remove legal protections against assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill and are of sound mind.
The Bill has the required number of MSP signatures to be brought forward in Holyrood, and the Swiss assisted suicide company, Dignitas, said it was “fully supportive” of the Bill.
In a response to a consultation that was run on the Bill, Dignitas identified that there is demand for their services from not only Scotland, but throughout the United Kingdom. Dignitas said: “Close to 500 UK residents, including 16 of Scotland, have [ended their lives by assisted suicide] at Dignitas”.
They added: “[F]or many years, the UK has been outsourcing the issue of [assisted suicide] to Switzerland” and described the assisted suicide and euthanasia law in the UK as “inadequate and incoherent”.
3,526 submissions opposed to a change in the law on assisted suicide were removed
However, in the same consultation, 3,526 submissions opposed to a change in the law on assisted suicide were removed, resulting in calls for the Scottish Government to conduct an urgent independent review of the handling of the consultation process.
The consultation report, released earlier this month, outlined that Liam McArthur has chosen to remove all consultation submissions from members of the public who were mobilised to make a submission through a campaign run by Right To Life UK.
Right To Life UK’s internal systems show that 3,526 submissions to the consultation were made through the campaign from members of the public opposing assisted suicide. The consultation report states that all submissions made off the back of that campaign were removed.
These submissions were made individually by members of the public who provided all the contact details that the consultation required to be included with each individual submission.
The largest assisted suicide lobby group in the country, Dignity in Dying, also mobilised supporters to submit to the consultation, but there is no mention in the report of removing submissions from members of the public who were mobilised to submit by Dignity in Dying’s campaign.
The consultation report claims that all the submissions mobilised by the Right To Life UK campaign were removed because some of them used either identical or similar language when describing their opposition to assisted suicide. There was no mention when the consultation launched that if submissions used similar language, they would be removed, along with all other submissions that were mobilised by a given campaign.
54.2% of patients who chose an assisted suicide were concerned with being a “burden on family, friends/caregivers
The state of Oregon, which has had assisted suicide since 1997, found that 54.2% of patients who chose an assisted suicide were concerned with being a “burden on family, friends/caregivers”, 92% of patients were concerned with being “Less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”, 93.3% were concerned with “losing autonomy”, and 68.1% were concerned with “loss of dignity”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: “It is tragic that some people seek to end their own lives by an assisted suicide in Dignitas. As the data from Oregon shows, people’s end-of-life concerns are overwhelmingly non-medical. Perceived or real loss of dignity or autonomy are real problems that cannot be solved by death. They are societal, familial, psychological and even spiritual problems that should be addressed through proper palliative care, and support from family and friends”.
“Scotland would make a grave error if it chose to discriminate against people who are terminally ill by removing protections against assisted suicide”.