Scotsman Reports

 

 A LEADING Church of Scotland minister has praised the work of Dignitas, the Swiss-based assisted suicide group, and accused Britain of “exporting” its ethical dilemma overseas.

Dr John Cameron said Dignitas provided a “much needed service” for individuals who want to “die as they have lived” and said NHS claims that front-line palliative care was available for all in Britain’s hospitals were “manifestly false”.

Dr Cameron’s comments are at odds with the views of the Kirk which opposes Independent MSP Margo MacDonald’s controversial End of Life Choices Bill that seeks to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland.

Dr Cameron, 66, writing in next month’s edition of Life and Work, the Church of Scotland magazine, said:

“Dignitas provides a much needed service to strong-willed and assertive individuals who want to die as they have lived. At present, we force citizens facing terrible deaths to fly out prematurely to Switzerland since they must be sufficiently fit to travel. As a society, we are refusing to face this matter head-on and are offloading our ethical dilemma to another country. This is morally unacceptable.”

Dr Cameron was the minister of Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, for 35 years before retiring last year. He said he and his wife, a physiotherapist, had made “living wills” as a result of the “harrowing scenes” they had witnessed in NHS geriatric wards.

He went on, “Claims that front-line palliative care is available to all patients in the UK are manifestly false. We clearly cannot afford to provide such a service.

“Having access to physician-assisted suicide allows the patient to maintain control over his or her situation and to end life in an ethical and merciful manner.

“Having such access in our own country would remove the necessity of a premature journey to a foreign country and dying among strangers – surely the ultimate unintended consequence of opposition by the Christian community.”

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