BY SCO Admin | March 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Dangers of the assisted suicide bill

Church issues warning after police probe claims that retired doctor facilitated end of life

Catholic Church representatives have said that news of a police probe into claims that a retired doctor helped patients end their own lives should highlight ‘how dangerous it is to proceed with the assisted suicide bill proposed by Margo Macdonald.’

It was announced last week that police are to review the case of Dr Iain Kerr, a retired GP, who admitted prescribing drugs to three people who felt their lives had become intolerable. In 2008, the doctor was found guilty of misconduct and suspended for six months for giving pills to a suicidal patient.

At the time, prosecutors decided it was not in the public interest to take action—but the Crown Office has now told police to find out whether there is any new evidence available.

In light of last week’s developments, John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Scottish bishops, spoke of his concerns as Independent MSP Margo Macdonald prepares to bring her proposed legislation for the legalisation of assisted suicide in front of the Scottish Parliament for a second time.

“If this level of abuse is already taking place it can only get worse if assisted suicide is made legal,” Mr Deighan said. “From the information made publicly available of the case of Dr Iain Kerr assisting people to die, we can see how easily any supposed right to die could be abused.

“A factor that proponents of assisted suicide are eager to point out is that it will not lead to depressed people having their lives ended yet we have been told that one of the victims was already on anti-depressants. Similarly we are told that assisted suicide is only for those who are terminally ill yet the elderly couple allegedly helped to die were not terminally ill.”

Mr Deighan added that ‘the law on murder is clear so that vulnerable people can be protected from harm.’

Retired GP, Mr Kerr, who worked in Clarkston, near Glasgow, has said that during his career he prescribed drugs to three people who were considering ending their lives.

Mr Kerr said once drugs were prescribed, ‘the option’ to overdose was left in the hands of the patient.

Gordon Macdonald, Scottish parliamentary officer for the Christian public affairs charity CARE, agreed with the Crown Office’s instructions to the police to conduct a review of the Dr Kerr case.

“It is very important that GPs don’t take the law into their own hands,” Mr Macdonald said. “The point of principal is crucial. It is right that the case is being reviewed.”



–        This story was reported in full in the March 22 print edition of the SCO.


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