As the Chamber Knows
I Have a Degenerative Condition
March 26, 2008 — Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Scotland
It is very healthy for all of us to consider the value of our life. In fat, it should be mandatory for the human condition. We should all concern ourselves with the contribution that we make to society in general throughout our life, right up to the moment of death.
As the chamber knows, I have a degenerative condition. I would like to have the right to determine by how much my capacity to fulfil my, social, familial, and personal functions will be truncated. I would like the ability to take that decision. I do not want to burden any doctor, friend or family member; I want to find a way in which I can take the decision to end my life in the event that I am unlucky enough to have the worst form of Parkinson’s near the end of my life. From the responses to interventions, we can see that the medical practitioners among us have admitted that palliative care is not as effective in all cases as everyone wants it to be. I am mindful of that. I may be one of the lucy ones. I apologise for the personal nature of my contribution, but this is not theory for me.
I fully appreciate why Michael Matheson wanted to invoke the law. However, in this case, yet again the law may be an ass. To say that it is illegal for anyone to force themselves to die is to deny the bravery of countless soldiers over the ages. People have taken that decision for one reason or another. It is just that we are now accepting that it is possible fro someone to take that decision when they are in sound mind and they can do so in a measured capacity. I am mindful of what the doctors say and how difficult it is for them. However, I have read the personal testimony of doctors and have seen doctors who have admitted in court to assisting a suicide. They are no less doctors in my estimation for having done that.
I congratulate Jeremy Purvis on bringing the debate to the chamber as quickly as he could. Many people have a lot less time than I have.
Source: The Scottish Parliament, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, Plenary, 26 March 2008.