Proposed Scotland law could make anorexic teens eligible for assisted suicide


Experts are warning that as written, a proposal to legalize assisted death in Scotland could allow for anorexic teenagers to qualify to legally kill themselves. 

Scotland’s Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) bill, which is currently being considered by lawmakers, would allow those who are terminally ill to request assisted suicide drugs so that they may end their lives. However, some are saying that the proposal’s language is too broad and will allow a wide range of conditions to fall under the “terminal” definition.

“It is called the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill, so that proclaims itself as being restricted to people who are terminally ill, but it defines people that are terminally ill only as people who have a progressive incurable disease, which is at an advanced stage. It doesn’t mean that you’re dying,” David Jones, professor of bioethics at St. Mary’s University in London and director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, told the Daily Mail.

‘Terminal in the Scottish Bill is defined as someone having a progressive incurable disease from which you could die. It could cover anorexia,” he added.

READ: Nearly half of women in Scotland who chose abortion did so due to high childcare costs

The idea that a person with anorexia would qualify for assisted suicide isn’t that far-fetched – assisted suicide deaths due to the condition have already occurred in Belgium, while a Canadian woman is fighting for the right to kill herself. In 2022 in the United States, a Colorado doctor admitted to providing assisted suicide drugs to her anorexic patients.

A young woman named Cara Neary is also speaking out against the assisted suicide proposal. Neary says she battled anorexia as a teen, and admits that had she been given the chance, she would have chosen assisted suicide; in Scotland teens are considered adults at the age of 16.

“Genuinely, I think if I had been given the option at 16, I probably would have taken it, which is terrifying, but if you gave me the option today, I’d obviously say absolutely not,” she wrote.

She continued: “Dying is not something you can come back from, you can’t undo this, so I think it’s really dangerous. I feel like it needs a lot more discussion. It is a very grey area.”

The current legislation is the third attempt by Scottish lawmakers to legalize assisted suicide in the country.

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