The Bill seeks to allow competent adults who are terminally ill to be given assistance to end their life; doctors would be allowed to prescribe medication to end a patient’s life but the fatal drugs would then have to be self-administered. There have been concerns about how the Bill would be implemented, for instance the Royal College of Nursing (who maintain a neutral stance on the issue of assisted dying) have expressed worries about a number of medical and practical issues raised by the Bill.
Andrew Turner says:
“Nobody could fail to be moved by the plight of patients and their families dealing with a diagnosis of terminal illness; stories I have heard have made me think long and hard about this issue. Terminally ill patients should receive the highest quality palliative and end-of-life care, and their families should feel confident that their needs will be met, which is why so much work has been done in recent years to improve end of life care.
“Although some of the individual experiences I have heard would lead me to support the measures in this Bill, overall I think that is far outweighed by the danger that such a law would be abused. Pressure could be put on an elderly person to end their life, so they are not a burden on family members or for inheritance purposes. Indeed there may be no pressure at all from anybody else, but somebody who needs care may feel themselves they should give freedom to loved ones or not rely on the state – in effect a right to die becoming a duty to die. That would change our society fundamentally. The Bill does not deal at all with those people unable to administer drugs themselves. Somebody determined to die can commit suicide, but death should not be a medical treatment.
“I know from my postbag that opinions on the Island are mixed. I have spoken to Islanders in favour of and against this law and with medical professionals on the Island and elsewhere. It is a sensitive and difficult subject, but we should not shy away from debating it, indeed it is often on matters such as this where the House of Commons is at its best”.