10 papers everyone should read about ‘Assisted Dying’

Dr Gillian Wright

Assisted suicide is not needed, not safe and fraught with ethical difficulties. Scotland needs access for all to high quality specialist palliative care.

1.  Palliative Medicine doctors look after those who are terminally ill, providing symptom relief for pain and other difficult symptoms, psychological, social and emotional support.  A recent survey found 95% would refuse to prescribe lethal medication to their patients even if it was legal. 40% would leave their jobs if it was legal in their hospice or hospital.



2.  Instead we need more care. Access to high quality palliative care is inadequate for most people.



3.  Assisted dying has problems too. Complications of assisted dying at 6.9% eg seizures/prolonged death.



4.  Are the safeguards safe? Not in other countries.

Worries grow about medically assisted dying in Canada-safeguards eroded within 6 years.



5.  Effects on vulnerable groups. Why is Canada euthanizing the poor?



6.  Euthanasia for Learning Disability and Autism – 39 Dutch cases



7.  Does it happen without consent. Yes, in Belgium- the elderly, confused and in a coma.



8.  Could there be a pressure on older people? Wish to die is transient and associated with depression and loneliness.



9.  Capacity is difficult to determine- Psychiatrists’ concerns.



10.  As is external pressure. Oregon- 54% of people cited ‘feeling a burden’ as one of the reasons they chose assisted suicide.



Note also less than 1% were referred for psychiatric evaluation. Was there untreated depression?