Junior doctors write to MSPs to oppose any move to doctor-assisted suicide by the Scottish Parliament

If you are a junior doctor in Scotland, you can add your name below the letter

Dear MSPs

The Hippocratic method has been the basis of medical decision making for millennia. It focuses on the value of human life and warns doctors not to use our position for harm: “I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgement, but I will never use it to injure or wrong them.”  We reaffirm that these values are still fundamental to modern healthcare.

As junior doctors in Scotland, we oppose any form of legislation which seeks to promote assisted suicide and will not participate if it becomes legal. 

We acknowledge that patients who are dying may have many fears and worries surrounding pain, loneliness, and even to the process of dying itself. All this can strain relationships. For example, in Oregon, USA, where assisted suicide is legal, 59% of people opting for assisted suicide in 2019 mentioned the fear of being a burden on family, friends, or caregivers as a factor in their decision. [1]  Legalising assisted suicide will undoubtedly place untold pressure on people who are vulnerable, disabled or elderly to end their lives prematurely. Some may even feel it is their ‘duty to die’.  These are the people we have gone to such lengths to protect and support during the pandemic. 

The implication of assisting suicide is that some human life is not worth continuing and would better cut short. This is a dangerous precedent. Where do we draw the line? What does that say about us as a society when we encourage one to end life prematurely? The medical profession has a duty to build and maintain trust between patient and doctor – which the public have a right to demand. We therefore support the trust between patient and clinician that comes from promoting a ‘good’ death with the help of modern medicine to manage symptoms rather than legalising a ‘treatment option’ that devalues the very life it seeks to end. 

We believe that modern palliative medicine in conjunction with healthy trusting relationships are sufficient to bring dignity in dying. Rather than focusing on ending life, we want to ensure that the last moments of one’s life are meaningful, holistic and relational.  

We would urge all Members of the Scottish Parliament  to vote against proposals to legalise assisted suicide. Let’s protect those who need us most. 

Yours sincerely,

Dr Christopher Marshall and Dr Edward Tulloch

If you are a junior doctor in Scotland, please sign our letter to MSPs to oppose any move to doctor-assisted suicide by the Scottish Parliament

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