An opinion on the topic of assisted suicide

Does a person have the right to terminate his own life? What about euthanasia, mercy-killing and assisted suicide:

An opinion on the topic of assisted suicide

These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image caption The motives for Harold Shipman's serial killing remain unclear, 10 years after his death The medical world was shattered when trusted GP Harold Shipman was exposed as a serial killer, responsible for the deaths of up to patients.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide: What are they and what do they mean?

Shipman killed himself in - but the spectre of his case still hangs over doctors. As Scotland's assisted suicide bill is considered, its supporters in the medical community explain how fear has changed the way doctors conduct palliative care.

Most of Shipman's victims were elderly women, in good health for their age, killed by injecting lethal doses of diamorphine the pharmaceutical name for heroin. As his legacy seeped through the medical community, the topic of doctors helping patients to die - already highly sensitive - became even more uncomfortable.

But it wasn't always so. Dr Iain Kerr, who made headlines after admitting helping patients to die, talks frankly about his experiences of treating people with terminal illnesses. He had one patient suffering at the end of the trajectory of his illness who asked for an additional dose of pain relief.

Dr Kerr said yes, but explained the risks: The patient responded that his son was visiting that evening, and asked if Dr Kerr could administer the dose after he'd had a chance to say goodbye. Dr Kerr agreed, and later that evening he gave the patient the standard dose.

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He died shortly afterwards. Doctrine of double effect If a doctor or family member deliberately assists or encourages another person to kill themselves, they have assisted suicide.

If they deliberately end another person's life to alleviate their suffering, they have committed euthanasia. Both are crimes under Scots Law. But the legal system is not entirely black and white. The "doctrine of double effect" states that a morally sound action with an unintended negative side-effect is permissible.

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It is frequently used to explain the way some doctors administer terminally ill patients with pain relief. Doctors are aware that high doses of morphine may hasten the death of these patients - but they give them the drugs anyway, to ease pain.

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption The principle of double effect is broadly accepted by the courts in medical situations Professor Sheila McLean, emeritus professor of law and ethics in medicine at the University of Glasgow, explains that although the principle is subject to considerable criticism, "it is broadly accepted by the courts in medical situations".

But that doesn't stop well-meaning doctors fearing they too will become known as "Dr Death" if one of their patients dies due to pain relief drugs.

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Both assisted suicide and euthanasia are currently crimes under Scots law But times change. The Shipman case made people more uncomfortable about the control doctors can have over the end of someone's life. People who had previously placed blind faith in the medical community became newly aware of the sheer power of the doctor, who held the hand of patients as they walked the tightrope between life and death.

By hurting instead of helping, Shipman perverted the doctor's primary objective. When his actions were first discovered, people struggled to understand him.

There is no clear motive for the suspected hundreds of murders by the former "trusted" GP. A decade has passed since the disgraced doctor hanged himself in his cell. But those left behind are still living with his legacy. Some of the main measures of the Assisted Suicide Scotland Bill: Only those who are terminally ill or who are suffering from deteriorating progressive conditions which make life intolerable can seek assisted suicide.

An "early warning" aspect, whereby anyone over the age of 16 can inform their GP of their support in principle for assisted suicide.Recently, we gave readers the opportunity to share their opinions on physician-assisted suicide in Clinical Decisions, an interactive feature in which experts discuss a controversial topic and.

Watch video · Consider this reaction from reader Dan Baker in Surprise to a column I recently wrote about the topic: “I am in assisted living, approaching my 95th birthday, living alone with all of my.

An opinion on the topic of assisted suicide

"Trusted" GP Harold Shipman is suspected of killing up to patients. How has his legacy affected the sensitive topic of assisted suicide in Scotland? Final Exit Digital Edition ( KE): The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying - Kindle edition by Derek Humphry.

Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Final Exit Digital Edition ( KE): The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for.

Suicide, homicide, physician-assisted suicide, violence (including domestic violence and gun violence), sudden death (from accidents and otherwise), dementia and other forms of lingering illness -- complex and difficult endings may bring complicated losses and complicated grief. 29 Jul Page 4 of I am interested in this subject for two different reasons. First, I am interested in constitutional.

Suicide and the Bible: Euthanasia, Mercy-Killing, Assisted Suicide