The assisted dying bill is due to be voted on Friday 11th September by the UK Parliament. Its not too late to write and post a personal letter (preferable) or send an e-mail to your MP. This is what I have just posted to mine. You can get more information from Care Not Killing
3rd September 2015
Stewart Hosie, MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Dear Mr Hosie:
I am writing to you concerning the proposed assisted dying bill in the UK Parliament. I am not sure if the SNP policy is still to abstain from voting on English matters, but in this case I would urge you not to do so as I think this is something that affects the whole of the UK.
I am greatly concerned at the amount of pressure that is being put on MP’s and others to vote for euthanasia. In an ideal world where there were no pressures on the NHS because of finances, no pressures on the elderly because of children’s inheritance and where all doctors, relatives and NHS administrators were honest, truthful and without fault, then perhaps a case could be made for euthanasia. But we don’t live in that world. If this bill becomes law then there will be enormous pressure put on individuals as well as on health carers.
Some argue that we should treat humans the way that we treat sick animals. I once had a dog put down because it was worrying sheep. I don’t want us to put down human beings because they commit crimes! Nor do I think the elderly, the dying, the depressed or the disabled should be treated like wounded animals. I hope we have a somewhat higher standard than that. Some argue that we have absolute autonomy over our own bodies and lives. None of us have absolute dominion over our bodies and lives. We do not determine when we are born and we do not determine when we die – and nor should the State. We are subject to many variations outwith our control. Four years ago I was in a coma and I most certainly did not have dominion over my own body. I am thankful that those who did have some degree of control (the medical staff) are still part of a culture where human life is considered sacred and precious and where those who want absolute dominion have not yet achieved their goal of replacing a Christian view of morality with a pagan one or a materialist view. Human beings are more than animals and we are more than (in the words of Bertrand Russell) ‘a blob of carbon floating from one meaningless existence to another’.
The SNP want us to live in a civilized and progressive society. Let us not regress to the notion that people could be killed because they felt they were a burden, suffer from dementia or in order to save money. This is not the stuff of compassion but rather of fear, greed and ignorance. I am delighted that your leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken against euthanasia, and that the Scottish Parliament had the good sense to overwhelmingly reject it. I hope the SNP will help the UK parliament to follow the enlightened Scottish example!
The experience of nations who already have legalized euthanasia is a salutary one. In Belgium and the Netherlands we now have involuntary euthanasia, and euthanasia for children. One of the most frightening cases is that of the 21-year-old Belgian woman who was euthanized because she was depressed. Once we cross the Rubicon of allowing doctors to kill people, no matter what safeguards are put in place, we are on the slippery slope. I believe that this bill, like the 1967 abortion act, although put there with good intentions, will only be the beginning of a death culture which will discriminate against the weak, the disabled and the poor. Please do not support it.
In my role as a minister I work with many doctors and health care providers, I spend a great deal of time with the terminally ill (indeed I am just about to head out to visit Roxborough House where high quality palliative care is available) and also with the disabled. The vast majority of them are opposed to this bill and I agree with them. I remember visiting one dying cancer patient in Roxborough house, just before I was due to speak on this subject. Although she was in a great deal of pain, she pleaded with me not to let people use her pain as an excuse for killing people. Astonishingly, despite a really bad prognosis, she is still alive today, married and with children. I shudder to think of what might have been if euthanasia had been available then.
Of course I know that there are people who are not going to get better. In one sense we are all dying. We must prepare people for death and relieve pain as much as we can. The compassionate thing to do is provide proper palliative care, not get rid of the problem by killing people. I also agree that it is wrong to unnecessarily prolong life through artificial means. But there is a vast difference between refusing treatment, or switching off a machine and actively killing someone. I would like to urge you as my MP to vote against this bill and to instead insist that more resources are spent on palliative care.
David A. Robertson
Minister of St Peters Free Church, Dundee.
Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.