Legalising Assisted Suicide 'Would Lead to Death on Prescription'

Daily Mail (London), May 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Legalising Assisted Suicide 'Would Lead to Death on Prescription'


Byline: Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspondent

THE SICK and disabled will be able to buy suicide drugs at the chemist if the law is changed to allow assisted dying, two of the country's most eminent legal and medical experts claim.

Any such law will open the way for pharmacists and nurses to prescribe drugs to help their patients kill themselves, warned Lord Carlile and Baroness Finlay.

They also said liberalising euthanasia laws will open the way for the establishment of state agencies to assess whether or not sick citizens should be helped to die.

PDF: The caution over assisted dying was sounded in a report prepared for the pressure group Living And Dying Well, set up last year to canvass debate over the risks of assisted dying.

It said that assisted suicide rules currently being promoted by campaigners would lead to 'doctor-shopping', where those wanting to die and families trying to persuade them to do so would go from GP to GP looking for one prepared to help.

And the report found that if doctors were given the right to provide legal drugs to help a patient die, such powers would also apply to others.

'There is no reason why, if assisted dying 253 were ever to be legalised, lethal drugs could not be prescribed by a physician, nurse or pharmacist (for these latter, as well as doctors, can legally prescribe), acting outside the parameters of health care.'

The report said that prescriptions might be written by those 'under contract to an official assessment agency'.

The analysis from Lord Carlile, who is the Government-appointed independent assessor of terror legislation, and Lady Finlay, Professor of Palliative Care at Cardiff University, comes at a time of growing pressure for a law to permit assisted dying. …

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