assisted suicide report
Michael Irwin is sceptical about its implementation
The independent Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by Lord Falconer (pictured), whose members include several prominent peers and medics, wants GPs to be able to prescribe lethal doses of medication for dying people to take themselves.
The report, published on 5th January, calls for the “inadequate and incoherent” law against assisted suicide to be scrapped following a series of high profile cases where patients have used the Dignitas suicide clinic to take their own lives.
Although helping someone to die is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment and police still investigate all cases, there have been no prosecutions since landmark guidelines were set out almost two years ago.
This 415-page report can be read (and downloaded free) by going to www.demos.co.uk
Michael Irwin, the well known doctor and Humani member (above), comments:
"Although it is a very detailed document, unfortunately I do not expect much to happen in the English parliament, because of this report, although Dignity in Dying is expected to produce a draft bill - for physician-assisted suicide for the terminally-ill (defined, in the report, as "with less than a year to live") - later this year.
"The British anti-choice lobby is attacking the report by saying that a majority of the members on the "Falconer Commission" are well known to be supportive of changing the law (in England and Wales) - but, to me, this membership simply reflects the fact that 75% of the population wants to see change. Although it did seem rather silly to have such a well-known supporter - Lord Falconer - as its chairman: surely it would have been much better to have had someone whose views were not already so publicly known.
"Although Lord Falconer is a very keen supporter of changing the law, he was, unfortunately, not impressed (or perhaps he was ill-informed) by what he was told occurs elsewhere in Europe, or in the United States. In The Daily Telegraph (a conservative national newspaper), on January 2nd, he wrote an article in which he stated that "Commissioners visited the (Dignitas) clinic and spoke to the people who ran it. They did not like much of what they saw.....But should the UK adopt the model used in Holland?.....We doubt it.....And would we want a system that required the ingestion of around 90 capsules of medication in a short period of time, often without the supervision or support of a doctor, as is the case in Oregon?" It was very sad, to me, to see such comments being made by the chairman of this Commission, just before this report appeared today".
See also The Guardian (5th January) at:
And the Daily Telegraph (5th January) at:
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