Danielle van Dalen

By Danielle van Dalen - 28/04/2020

Danielle van Dalen

By Danielle van Dalen -

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FAQ #12 | Have jurisdictions that said no to assisted dying legislation responded with alternative approaches to caring well for people at the end of life?

In 2015 Scotland investigated a bill on assisted suicide. In their report, the Health and Sport Committee recommended the Scottish Parliament not pass a bill to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. They found that “there are ways of responding to suffering (such as increased focus on palliative care and on supporting those with disabilities), which do not raise the kinds of concerns about crossing a legal and ethical ‘Rubicon’ that are raised by assisted suicide.”[1] Rather than passing assisted suicide legislation, the Committee proceeded to complete an investigation into palliative care services. They believed that improving palliative care services was the best and most compassionate response to people suffering in the final stages of their lives.[2]

In 1994 a New York State Task Force on Life and the Law investigated assisted suicide and euthanasia in a medical context. They considered the role of medical practitioners in treating and caring for terminally and severely ill patients. They found there needed to be improvements in practices that provided pain relief for these patients, and that most medical practitioners were underprepared to talk with patients about their diagnoses, illness, and the dying process.[3] The Task Force came to the opinion that improvements to the current practice of medicine in these areas would significantly relieve the suffering that euthanasia and assisted suicide was supposed to address.

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ENDNOTES:

[1] Health and Sport Committee, Stage 1 report on Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, (2015), 47.
[2] Health and Sport Committee, We need to talk about Palliative Care, (2015), 1.
[3] New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, When death is sought, 166 and 157.

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Danielle van Dalen

By Danielle van Dalen -

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