Skip to content

Severely Disabled Grandfather From Scotland Brings Right To Die Case To Court

May 14, 2015

A severely disabled grandfather is to have his case for the right to die heard by the Court of Session.

Gordon Ross, 66, said he hoped the hearing would clarify the legal position regarding assisted suicide.

He has called on the Lord Advocate to issue guidance that makes clear whether any person who helps him end his life would be charged with an offence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has issued guidelines for England but these do not apply to Scotland.

Campaigners opposed to assisted suicide argue that changing the law would be a “catastrophe” in terms of how society confronts illness and disability, as well as “devaluing” suicide prevention efforts.

But Mr Ross said he believes that the present legal situation “encourages suicide” and discriminated against people with a disability.

‘Significant flaws’

While he will not attend the hearing in person due to poor health, supporters of the pensioner’s case are planning to stage a demonstration outside the court in Edinburgh’s Parliament Square.

Campaigners have previously urged MSPs to pass the Assisted Suicide Bill which was introduced to Holyrood by the late MSP Margo Macdonald, and which is currently being taken forward by Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

A Holyrood committee recently concluded that the bill contained “significant flaws” and opposed its general principles, but said the full parliament should decide whether or not to throw out the proposed legislation.

Mr Ross suffers from several serious medical conditions including Parkinson’s disease and loss of sensation in his arms and legs.

He is unable to walk and uses a wheelchair, and cannot feed or dress himself or attend to his personal needs.

The former TV producer currently lives in a care home in Glasgow.

Explaining his decision to bring the case, Mr Ross said he fears that, should a time come when he has “had enough”, he will not be capable of ending his life without help – unlike an able-bodied person.

He said: “I believe that, as a disabled person, I am currently being discriminated against. Anyone else, in any circumstances, can choose to end their own lives at any time. Because of my disability that is something I am unable to do.

“I do not wish to end my life, I want it to go on as long as I can. However, if my condition deteriorates to the point that I do want to take that action, I want to know what action the law might take were someone to assist me.”

Mr Ross also argued that the current legal position encourages suicide.

‘Issue guidance’

He said: “Amongst those with conditions such as mine, people might choose to take their own life before they would otherwise want to because they know they won’t be able to in future.

“Ending life early in such circumstances is tragic and the law should not be putting up barriers to prevent people from living longer.

“I hope the court will consider this and compel the Lord Advocate to issue guidance, as exists in England, as to what support can or cannot be given to people in situations such as mine.”

The judicial review at the Court of Session is expected to last two days.

Dr Gordon Macdonald of Care Not Killing, the umbrella group spearheading opposition to the proposed assisted suicide legislation, said Scots law was currently “crystal clear”, with the Lord Advocate having previously stated that it would be “difficult to conceive a situation” where it would not be in the public interest to prosecute under homicide laws.

Dr Macdonald added: “In today’s individualistic society the pressures on sick, disabled and elderly people to avoid placing ‘unfair burdens’ on others are very great.

“Maintaining the law’s protection of this silent and vulnerable majority is more important than giving choices to a minority of strong-minded and highly resolute people.”

Mr Macdonald also said that proposed safeguards in the right to die bill which is currently before the Scottish Parliament assumes that those who will request assisted suicide will know their own minds beyond doubt, which he said was a “false assumption”.

One Comment leave one →
  1. donna marsh permalink
    May 14, 2015 11:04 am

    Aww god bless you this must be the hardest thing for any one to do I can only imagine what you and your family must be going through 😦 I’m thinking of you all and sending u my love and please Mr David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith and the rest of your cabinet please read this and have some compassion think how disabled people and their families feel and what they go through please and do not get rid of our nhs or disability money thank you

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: