TFN poll: should assisted suicide be made legal?

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8th January 2015 by Graham Martin 44 Comments

Should assisted suicide be made legal?

Poll results (total votes: 1356)

Should assisted suicide be made legal?

The Scottish Parliament’s health committee is due to take evidence on the assisted suicide bill, which will go before MSPs.

The bill, if it becomes law, would allow people with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to obtain assistance in ending their own life.

It will also ensure that the individual has made his or her own informed decision to end his or her life and has had the opportunity to reflect at key stages before moving forward.

However critics say it would put pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others.

The bill was brought forward by former MSP Margo MacDonald, who died in April last year after suffering with Parkinson's disease.

What do you think? Should assisted suicide be allowed? Have your say – and join in the debate by leaving a comment below. 

9th January 2015 by T. Salas

I, full heartedly, support the bill as I would not like to suffer as I have seen dear ones who have. The critics need to be put in a devastating situation of illness or personal close encounter to reconsider their stupid and heartless position. Our European partners who permit this peaceful alternative exit have my blessing. It should not be necessary to abundant one's country, family, and friends but I would gladly move, if possible, or go to Switzerland if necessary.

9th January 2015 by Marina Palomba

I support the Bill 100%. I believe will will look back one day and consider refusing a peaceful death to those in pain and suffering to be act of barbarity. The right of self determination, with appropriate safe guards, has surely to be a fundamental human right which we presently deny those with incapacity to choose for themselves. It is little short of torture to refuse to allow the right to die. In addition and the present law forces those with disabling illness and terminal illness to choose death prematurely before they are too ill to travel to civilised countries were they can choose the end they want. Critics of the Bill are misguided and display an incomprehensible lack of compassion. I hope Scotland will have the courage to pass this Bill and forever be congratulated on finally bringing some peace of mind to those in situations none of would wish on a worst enemy.

9th January 2015 by George Lamb

What the hell do you think you are playing at Third force news! Great job of taking an emotive and problematic issue and turning in to a debate that pits those with real concerns against those who fear the unknown. Tell you what why not ask a proper question, or would that be asking for er,, journalism? The number of people who have been forced by the failure of the welfare state to kill themselves is a known and and undisputed phenomena. The exact number might be in dispute but certainly by no means the fact that they exist Similarly the number of hate crimes against disabled people has been on the rise, this might be about reporting mechanisms getting better or just the fact that people feel more confident in reporting them. For me some interesting investigative journalism could have been done to find out if the Assisted Suicide bill would impact on how disabled people would feel about themselves, who knows it might give them a greater sense of control of their lives. An interesting and informative piece of journalism might even have been to "talk" to disabled peoples organisations about an "ASSISTED LIVING BILL" rather than about dying. But in the publication of the national voice of the third sector in Scotland reduces the whole thing to a black and white, in or out, fear or no fear equation. Way to go in showing how not to conduct a poll. "Choose Hope not fear oppose the AS Bill"

9th January 2015 by Gareth Finn

I fully support this bill.

9th January 2015 by Catherine Garrod

Not one disability organisation supports Assisted Suicide. Scope, Disability Rights UK, Inclusion Scotland, Not Dead Yet and others oppose it. The MS Society and Parkinsons UK do not support it. It's about how as a society we value the lives of disabled people. Disabled people face oppression and discrimination on a daily basis, this Bill reinforces negative stereotypes of disabled people as having lives not worth living. The safeguards are not adequate. the Bill would apply not just to people who are terminally ill but also anyone with a progressive condition or 'life shortening condition'. Only 150 people in the last 10 years have travelled to Dignatas but where assisted suicide is legal thousands are coerced into this option every year. Disabled people want support for Independent Living, investment in social care, welfare, health services, palliative care and end of life care, not assisted suicide. It is the cuts to support that make life intolerable. Anyone else who was suicidal would be offered counselling and emotional support - that is the compassionate response. Treat disabled people with dignity and support us to live.

9th January 2015 by Moira Symons

Assisted suicide should be legalised. Each of us is entitled to decide when life has become intolerable and to end it in a manner of our own choosing. Those helping us to do so should be not have to fear prosecution.

9th January 2015 by Stan Cook

I think that the idea of assisted suicide must be right. The idea that we should have to live through pain and suffering when we do not want to is wrong. We need to put checks and balances around it, but that surely it is within our ability to come up with these. I am sorry if the idea offends some peoples' beliefs, religious or otherwise. However, at the end of the day, assisted suicide will be voluntary. If they do not like it, they need not participate. Those of us of a different persuasion should not have to suffer for their beliefs.

9th January 2015 by George Lamb

Stan, some facts please not emotive rhetoric, why do you think you will be in pain? How many people die in the way you describe? Why do you assume the system that is currently in place cannot be made better therefore needing this whole new level of bureaucracy? Can you name the "life limiting illness which should be an automatic :pass go, do not collect any money, but do form an orderly q to claim your one way trip to oblivion"? If you can name one life limiting condition, can you please say at what point in the limiting of that life it would be appropriate for these people to die. For example a child suffers a head injury? Or an adult gets a diagnosis of one of the many none life threatening cancers and decides not to wait till they get sick but to kill themselves whilst they are healthy enough to be independent in all respects? (Life limiting illness is the actual wording in the Bill not me making it up)How about those with sever mental health problems, funny enough they are not even mentioned in the Bill, they would have to not just convince two doctors that they did in fact have a legitimate reason to die, but that they are not suffering from a mental disorder, that will work out well don't you think?

9th January 2015 by Ian Harvey

No no no it bloody shouldn't!

9th January 2015 by Ian Harvey

No, no, NO! it bloody shouldn't be made legal

9th January 2015 by Juliet

Juliet Marlow No, never, for the following reasons:1. It will NEVER be safe enough...and even one single death in error is too much.2. There is no need for it as long as people can access decent palliative care.3. Equality - why just terminally ill people? If AS is to be available it should be available to everyone. And it is only when I say this that it become obvious how dangerous it would be. One the line is crossed it will be impossible to slide back up the slippery slope.4. All disability organisations are against this.5. The British Medical Association is against it - after all, it contravenes the Hippocratic Oath.

9th January 2015 by George Lamb

Thought I might suggest a couple of ideas for your next couple of polls, I mean you are obviously so busy doing Journalism on other things Third Force News, that I thought I could help you out a bit.Poll 1 Should all funding to BME communities depend on their attitude to extremisim?Poll 2 Should we have separate toilets and other facilities for the LGBT community?Poll 3 Do we need SCVO to act as the voice of the disadvantaged any more?Hmm maybe one of those is a joke, the other two might be offensive, but those seem not to matter when setting poll questions in TFN so we should be fine.

10th January 2015 by Martha Mason

No, it should not be made legal!

10th January 2015 by Wanda Cree

I don't think assisted suicide should be made legal. It would open the floodgates to many serious implications

10th January 2015 by J.lee

I totally agree with the bill. Why do we have the right to live how we wish to live but not how we wish to die? It is our life so why are made to suffer through terminal illnesses, knowing that we have pain and torture not just for ourselves but our family and friends to go through until the eventual end. I have watched numerous friends and family suffer and would have chosen to go before they were too ill to care for themselves.

10th January 2015 by CG Ross

I absolutely oppose this Bill. Suicide is wrong, because it is a refusal to accept our own humanity, which itself is defined by our kinship with God. All of us and our lives have value precisely because we are children of God. This is where our dignity comes from, not from some perception of independence and control, which are only apparent and not real anyway. My own mother was almost euthanized by default, all that was required was to rehydrate her properly, which thankfully did happen. This gave her four more years of life, and although frail and bedridden, these were good years for her and for us. Pain and death, when it comes is to be accepted, are to be accepted with courage-this also lends to our dignity, but does not define it. What we must also look to, as well as throwing out this Bill, (yet again in Scotland) is support for people who otherwise might be tempted into suicide, either through ill health, frailty or depression and loneliness. This very support would be undermined by such a Bill. Not only is this morally wrong, it is extremely dangerous.

10th January 2015 by Mr. M. Savage

The result is no surprise (80% against euthanasia when writing) and reflects, even understates my own experience of how people view this matter. Also, didn't the country already vote on this recently?

10th January 2015 by Mary Christiansen

Almost all of the provisions outlined in this Bill are unclear.. A few examples," life shortening " and "terminal " ,what is and who is qualified to interpret mental capacity. This has been recognised and discussed in committee. Hard cases make poor law , as has been seen before. The hard cases being quoted to support the passing of the Bill are unnecessarily alarming. Palliative care is good and improving. Pain relief is achievable. It is the duty of any physician who is inexpert in this field of medicine to refer the patient to one who does have the expertise. People can and should be cared for with proper attention to individual need. That's the compassionate way to help the dying to do so with real dignity at the natural end of their lifespan. We who are part of a civilised society should not be deceived by what is being proposed. The lessons of involuntary deaths and those carried out on people who were not dying in countries where suicide and euthanasia are already enshrined in law should make us aware of what would certainly take place here.

10th January 2015 by Fr Euan Marley

I was eight years as a hospital chaplain and I have done a lot of hospital visiting over the years. I don't know how many time I have been with people at the moment of death but possibly about a hundred. I have certainly been with many people who were dying, even if I wasn't present at the moment of death. When dying in hospital, many people are heavily sedated. That is a consideration. Those who wish to have their death carried out by another will have to be deprived of sedation in order to show that they are fully lucid. This means causing them more pain. I doubt that this 'assisted suicide' will relieve suffering at all. We will create a culture where people fear pain so much that they choose death. In this culture pain will seem more intense for many, because there is a great deal of evidence that cultural norms change the way we experience pain. The fear of pain is a difficult concept because sometimes fear can be so intense that it becomes indistinguishable from pain. Those who advocate 'assisted suicide' seem to me to be increasing the subjective experience of pain. This is not the fundamental objection to 'assisted suicide'. I have placed the phrase in brackets because it is masking the basic issue. If an assisted suicide takes place then someone apart from the person who died, will have taken life. Who is going to do this? Is it doctors or nurses? If so, then we will have changed the nature of the medical profession. Taking life will be an integral part of their work. Can they continue to be healers if they are also killers? Doctors can become killers very easily. They are in a position to kill and in fact many murderers have been doctors and nurses. The most prolific serial killer in British history was a doctor. Alternatively we might create a separate caste of people who take life. Given the unease with which societies have treated hangmen, how would these people fit into ordinary life. What sort of people would they be? The experience of the European countries which have allowed euthanasia, is that it was not confined to those who were terminally ill. Depressives have asked for and obtained help to be killed. These were people who were physically capable of killing themselves but wished for other people to do the killing. We are social beings, and suicidal people often seek sanction for their killing themselves. I have met people who have tried to extract some kind of permission from me to kill themselves. I have never entertained them and as far as I know no one has gone on to commit suicide. What happens if the whole of society sanctions their suicide? Suicide can be contagious. It goes with a murderous attitude. Consider how many murderers have committed suicide at the end of their killing sprees. The first modern society to allow euthanasia, was Nazi Germany. This is not just a rhetorical point. The first gas chambers were used to kill the mentally handicapped. The same sort of language was used by the Nazi's as we hear now. Killing was to be done in the name of compassion and dignity. Killing and suicidal behaviour escalated together in that society. Any soldier who was badly wounded, even if he could survive, was killed. 'Bauchshuss einspritz' was a standard practise. It means if shot in the stomach then inject a poison. So don't kill, and don't allow killing to infect our commitment to life and well being.

11th January 2015 by Claire de Soldenhoff

I can't believe what the stats above were on assisted suicide: Of course we should have it passed as legal. Human rights and choice, that's what people need. Options at the most dire time in someone's life. No one should have the right to keep someone alive who is clearly suffering with no chance of recovery.

11th January 2015 by Lewis Mullen

Yes, should be made legal

11th January 2015 by Jamie

I'm not sure if the poll has already closed, so I can't tick "yes", but yes, I support assisted suicide. I believe that people should be able to end their lives in the manner of their choosing, in dignified way.If someone is in pain, who are we to force them to continue suffering? Right now, the only options available are illegal ones that can leave loved ones as criminals, a messy ignoble unassisted death, or lingering suffering if they are physically unable to end their lives and no one will help them. We wouldn't treat animals that badly, why humans?

12th January 2015 by Carole Craig

I believe it is the right of the individual to choose the timing of their own death if they are suffering from a terminally illness or severe disability resulting in loss of independence. I respect the views of others who do not feel this is acceptable due to their religious beliefs but ask they respect my rights.

12th January 2015 by Stuart Weir

I am wholeheartedly against this bill. Why do we want to extract and rid ourselves of people in our communities who are in pain and suffering and call this 'their rights'? To take our own lives and ask for professional, medical assistance to do so is to denigrate ourselves to being sub-human.

12th January 2015 by James Henry

Not to support this bill would be barbaric.

12th January 2015 by George Glen

I fully support this bill. Anyone who has experienced the tragedy of loved ones going through years of pain and misery will know why this is the right move. My life, my death, my choice!

12th January 2015 by John MC GINLEY

I agree wholeheartedly that assisted suicide for those unfortunate individuals who need a release from their pain and suffering should be legalised. Their choice! Those that want to continue suffering,so be it. Their choice!

12th January 2015 by Melissa Titus

I support the right to assisted suicide, provided that the law and guidelines are comprehensive and include a number of safeguards and checks to ensure that such decisions are taken with full awareness of its implications and without any pressure from other people.As a woman, I have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.As a responsible pet owner, I would be advised by vets to do the "humane" thing and put animals to sleep if they are in considerable pain and nothing else can be done.And if I am physically able, I can commit suicide at any point, although I would probably have to resort to some painful procedure to carry it out. Nevertheless the choice is completely mine. I can choose to end my life if I wish and I have contemplated this many times over in my life.We are obsessed with quantity of life instead of quality.I find it extremely demeaning and unethical to think that if I am very old and infirm or suffering from some incurable disease that leaves me paralysed, and after much internal debate and soul searching, I feel the "humane" thing to do to myself and any loved ones, is to end my life with dignity and on my own terms - that I am prevented from doing so, simply because other people (who incidentally have no interest in my life, my ailments or my experience of living through it), are able to force me to live.What right do such people think they have, that they can force someone to live against their wishes?Assisted suicide is an option I would very much like to have as I get older and continue to come to terms with my own mortality. Everyone would like to die in peace and with dignity and in their own homes. Very few people manage to achieve this. I may never have to use such an option, but knowing that it is there would give me a lot of comfort.There are many other improvements needed in the health service, such as palliative and geriatric care, and those discussions certainly need to be ongoing.However, part of moving towards an enlightened society is treating humans as sentient adults with the ability to decide things for themselves and make informed choices.Counselling and psychological assessments should definitely be a part of any assisted suicide request and there should be stringent criteria to allow such a procedure to take place. In countries that have assisted suicide, are people rushing to indiscriminately end their life? I doubt it.It is certainly an emotive topic, but I hope the option of assisted suicide will be available in the UK some day. I do not wish to have to drag myself onto a plane to go to Switzerland and die away from the familiarity and comfort of my home, as many people are having to do now, simply because they wish to die on their own terms.

12th January 2015 by John Hunt

Another contributor writes: "It's about how as a society we value the lives of disabled people".NO, it's NOT! There is no monopoly on nasty, protracted death making this the sole preserve of disabled people.Having watched both my parents die in NHS hospitals, I trained as a nurse, and have since watched more patients linger, suffering, and eventually die.That is NOT how MOST people would want to die! Certainly I don't. If I see writing on the wall, suggesting that is what Nature has in store for me, I will take the DIY route, at a time of my choosing: provided I am able.But if I'm not able, I should want an "assisted" death. Indeed, surveys have shown that around 80% of Europeans feel the same way.Faithists devoid of compassion must not be allowed to hijack the issue, claiming that this is a conspiracy against the disabled. It is to allow CHOICE. To EVERYONE. Whether disabled or not.

12th January 2015 by Martin Conroy

Any suicide is a tragedy. It's tragic for those who feel they can't go on and must end their lives, it's devastating for their family and friends and it's devastating for society. Why are people actively promoting suicide? What is so good about suicide?When a person is deemed worthless then killing them becomes justifiable in the eyes of the pro euthanasia lobby. What we must focus on is ensuring the best quality of death for a person and we don't do that by intentionally killing them. Help them, be with them, care for them. That is true compassion, killing them is not.

12th January 2015 by Will townshend

Although i do share considerable concern over the very real potential for this service to be abused if it were to be legalised, i feel they will definitely be outweighed by the inherent positives that can come from this. With very careful management & policies in place, these concerns could be highly mitigated. Therefore, my vote on legalising the right to assisted suicide would be a Yes! No system is perfect but i certainly don't feel that is reason enough to justify deny everyone a right.

12th January 2015 by Catty Magowan

I think assisted suicide should be allowed.

12th January 2015 by Fiona

On such an emotive subject it is very difficult to know what YOU would choose to do when faced with this dilemma. In the society we live in, in Scotland, today, it seems it is decreed by the medical profession that life must continue at all costs whether or not there is little or any quality of life. This is only possible because of the drugs that are free and available. If these drugs were not available, or free, then there choice would not exist. There is no doubt in my mind there is a place for this legislation to become law so we can regain the choice in a safe, legal way. We owe it to Margo.

12th January 2015 by sandra wood

of course it should be allowed ;its tragic that people have to travel to another country for this ;not every terminal person responds to pain killing drugs ;its up the the patient soley ;;;;;;;do wish other people would remember that and not decide what they want

13th January 2015 by Margaret B

I agree strongly that an individual.should have a choice as to what stage of a distressing, unbearable end that they wish to live no longer. Humans make this choice for animals in our care or injured beyond being 'viable' yet, at present, cannot make that decision for ourselves. I agree that better support is needed when an individual is struggling to cope with 'life' and believe that this would reduce suicide figures which is often unconnected. Those are often the people who are needing to live.

14th January 2015 by C. Burnett

I think terminally ill patients who are in a certain state of mind (e.g those dying of terminal cancer) should have a say to whether they wish to die or not. Those who have dementia or related illness should not as they do not have a functioning brain to make these kinds of decisions. However an idea would be for people to put this in there Will- if they were to fall ill of dementia or related illnesses they wish to have assisted suicide. Many people, from personal experience, who contract dementia would not want to die this way and would not want their life to be the way it is through dementia.At the end of the day- we should all die the way we wish to die. If that is through assisted suicide, it should be granted.

14th January 2015 by Rob Kay

Of course it should be made legal: it is my business and that my my family and medical practitioner, and nobody should have the right to dictate to me what I can and cannot do on the basis of their own rigid and doctrinaire belief systems.

3rd February 2015 by JL

As a young man with MS with no family in Scotland, this Bill is saying that if I get too ill, then I'm a burden on the State and therefore should be killed off, because my life is less valuable than the lives of others.

3rd February 2015 by Janet Mundy

My sister in Australia died from cancer shortly after Margo. We discussed this bill and how much difference it would have made to my sister and her end of life decision process had there been this sort of legislation. I have read the bill in detail, and it's full of safeguards to ensure that the risk of vulnerable people being taking advantage of is minimised, if not non-existent. Please support this bill.

26th May 2015 by Margaret

what about equal op for me to have an "easy death", I will not be able to afford journey to switzerland etc, nor would I want to go, but would like the choice here.

8th April 2017 by Steve Dann

When we think animals are suffering too much we put them out of their misery without knowing whether they are ready to go. Why can we not do the same for humans when they say they don't want to carry on living in pain or misery?

8th April 2017 by Steve Dann

George Lamb. - It all boils down to one thing: No one has the right to tell me when I should end my own life, when and if, I want to. Not you, not anyone. End of story!

8th April 2017 by Steve Dann

George Lamb. - Here's a poll idea for you: Should people be allowed to use abbreviated forms of corporate or government titles, on the assumption that every reader knows what the abbreviations stand for? Or should they make sure initially, that the reader is aware which body is being referred to?

8th April 2017 by Steve Dann

Catherine Garrod - I'm sorry but your decision on whether to end your own life is entirely restricted to just that. No one has any right to speak on when, or how another person chooses to check out.