BY SCO Admin | July 19 2013 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


No dignity in assisted suicide

— Pope, Church and pro-lifers oppose care home head’s support for legal change

THE man who runs 42 Scottish nursing homes has called for much greater ‘choice’ over ‘how and when’ people die in the same week Pope Francis warned Scottish Catholics that they have to do all they can to protect ‘the sick’ and ‘the old.’

The Holy Father has sent a pro-life message to Great Britain and Ireland saying ‘all life has inestimable value’ as ‘even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in His own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.’

However, Dr Chai Patel, chairman of the HC-One group, the UK’s third largest nursing home chain, backed the legalisation of assisted suicide in his controversial speech to the National Care Homes Congress in Birmingham last Friday.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Scotland responded to Dr Patel’s comments by saying ‘the Church opposes the deliberate killing of one’s own body,’ before emphasising that ‘Catholicism does not ask for extreme measures to be enacted to keep someone alive.’

The comments by Dr Patel, chairman of one of the UK’s largest providers of end of life care, come as Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald is preparing a new attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

He used his speech to call for new approaches to end of life care, saying ‘if we find ourselves in a situation where the quality of our life is low (or expected to be so) and we have lost the will to live,’ he said, ‘or if we are able to determine the circumstances in which we would not like to live, should we have the choice to die well—[that is] choosing how, when, where and the way of dying?’

While Dr Patel said he thought this was a ‘discussion that needs to happen for itself, not for any economic reasons,’ his speech also contained calls for private companies to have a much greater input into NHS methods.

Dr Patel’s remarks have sparked consternation among opponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia. A spokeswoman for The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland said he represented ‘a corporate, money-making body that no doubt sees from the example of Dignitas that there is a lot of money to be made from suicide clinics and can only lead one to conclude that these comments are about business not care.’

The spokeswoman for SPUC Scotland, part of the Care Not Killing coalition in Scotland, added: “[They] send out a dangerous message to those in our society who are elderly, infirm or dependent on others for some kind of help, support or care,” she said. “Illness and old age do not rob people of dignity, but treating them as disposable or placing quality of life judgments on their existence does. Giving good care and understanding and time to those in need is the real act of mercy.”





—This story was published in full in the July 19 print edition of the SCO, available in parishes.

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