The time for ‘Death with Dignity’ to be the law of the land has come

A leading expert from the United States will today address an audience in Glasgow to share her knowledge and expertise about how to effectively implement a law to allow patients with terminal or life shortening conditions to have a dignified death at a time of their choosing whilst also protecting vulnerable groups.

Dr. Peg Sandeen, Executive Director of Death with Dignity National Centre, will speak at the free event in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow organised by campaign group Friends At The End (FATE).

The Death with Dignity National Centre, based in Oregon in the United States, exists to promote Death with Dignity laws based on the model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.

During her speech, Dr. Sandeen will outline in detail her experience in the US State of Oregon which has had a Dignity in Dying law in effect for over 15 years after it was approved in a state-wide referendum.

During her speech, Dr. Sandeen will say: “Under Oregon’s law patients must submit written and oral requests separated by two different waiting periods, receive confirmation of diagnosis, prognosis and mental competence by two doctors.  Every step of the process is in the hands of the patient, and there is criminal prosecution for those who interfere with or coerce the patient.”

“The State of Oregon issues annual reports to the people about how Death with Dignity is used in the state. From this, we know that the practice is rarely used.  Roughly one-third of people who are able obtain the medication do not do so, but rather go on to die from their underlying disease knowing that they had the option until the very end.  Approximately 90% are enrolled in hospice, showing that palliative care and Death with Dignity go hand-in-hand as two compatible end-of-life care options.”

“The time for Death with Dignity to be the law of the land has come. Terminally ill individuals deserve the best quality care and treatment available to them, and if they so choose, they deserve a humane and compassionate death as well.”

Sheila Duffy, spokesperson for FATE said: “We are delighted that someone with the knowledge and experience of Dr. Sandeen has agreed to speak in Scotland.  Although the most recent attempt at legislation on a dignified death in Scotland failed at Holyrood, the support amongst MSPs has doubled and, with strong and growing public support it is clear that this issue is not going to go away.”

“The experience of Oregon shows that a well-drafted law can provide those suffering from terminal or life-threatening conditions with the option of ending their lives in a dignified manner at a time of their choosing, whilst protecting vulnerable groups from coercion.  I am looking forward to hearing more from Dr. Sandeen and using that knowledge to shape the next steps in our campaign in Scotland.”


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