A new proposal would allow Scottish citizens who live in rural areas to have their requests for assisted suicide approved over Zoom. These telemed consultations would take the place of important in-person visits, where a patient is assessed and counseled to ensure he or she is making the request in a sound state of mind before receiving approval for assisted suicide. Critics say the idea of telemed assisted suicide shows a “callous indifference for the value of human life.”
Per the proposed bill, assisted suicide would be available to terminally ill people over the age of 16. Any patient who wishes to receive the fatal drugs must first meet with two doctors who must agree that the person is mentally competent and is not under coercion. The proposal stipulates that for those people who are unable to meet doctors in person, video chat may be an acceptable alternative.
“How can a medic make a decision on the state of mind of an individual on a remote internet connection without being in the physical presence of that person to try and make a measured judgment?” Dr. Gordon Macdonald, the chief executive of Care Not Killing, told the Scottish newspaper The Herald.
The proposal is part of the Proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill that was introduced last month by MSP Liam McArthur.
But Zoom calls aren’t the only problem with McArthur’s proposal. According to The Christian Institute, McArthur also pointed out that assisted suicide could cause health care spending to be reduced across the country “by between $34.7 million and $138.8 million” — something he sees as an obvious positive.
Dr. Macdonald spoke frankly about the dangers of such an outlook. “The emphasis of these brutal proposals is on telling people that they are costing too much to stay alive and would save the country substantial amounts by being put to death,” he said. “To add insult to injury, they do not even merit a face-to-face consultation with a doctor who will decide by Zoom or something similar that individuals should be given the go-ahead for assisted suicide and then pop some deadly drugs in the post to enable them to do so.”
As has been the case in many other countries, legalizing assisted suicide always leads to a slippery slope, with laws meant to safeguard being gradually repealed over time. There is little reason to believe that Scotland will be any different, especially since lawmakers are already pointing out the cost-effective “benefits” that assisted suicide will have on the health care system. While it is often disguised as compassionate, assisted suicide often leaves the most vulnerable among us feeling like they have no choice but to end their own lives.
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