Scope CEO responds to assisted dying report
5 January 2012
In its report the Commission on Assisted Dying recommends that assisted dying could safely be offered to people who are suffering at the end of life and likely to die within 12 months, provided that they satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Commenting on the report, Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, said:
“The current law on assisted suicide protects disabled people from being put under pressure to end their lives.
“Today’s report recommends that assisted dying could be 'safely' offered to people with 12 months to live if certain criteria were met and safeguards were in place.
“But we have little confidence that the ‘safeguards’ recommended by the Commission would genuinely protect an individual who felt under pressure to end their life.
“For instance, the report underlines the need for checks to ensure that people aren't put under pressure to end their lives, but there is scant detail on how this can be done.
“The 'safeguards' also rely on the objectivity of doctors and social workers. Yet we have seen that medical and social care professionals themselves can make negative assumptions about disabled people’s quality of life.
“The report also recommends drawing an arbitrary line to exclude those who have longer than a year to live from legalised assisted dying. But given the views of the Commission's high-profile supporters, the question has to be asked whether these moves are just a way of opening the door to further relaxing of the law.”