News

A video message from Omid

With Omid’s High Court case due to hear evidence in July, Omid has taken the time to record a video message where he lays out how important the case is to him.

Like Omid, Friends at the End support assisted dying for those who are terminally ill, but we advocate for legalisation to go further than this. We believe that compassion should always be shown to those with incurable diseases and that the law should account for this.

You can support Omid’s case directly through his CrowdJustice page.

Omid Case Receives Permission to Proceed

The High Court of England and Wales has confirmed that the judicial review into the case of Omid will proceed to a full hearing. Friends at the End welcome the decision to proceed with the case and wish Omid every success over the coming days.

Speaking to his legal team after the court decision, Omid said: “The task ahead is a formidable one — the court needs to understand that people in my situation, with an incurable condition and years of misery ahead, are not less deserving of the court and public’s sympathy but as Lord Neuberger recognised in the Nicklinson case — we are surely more deserving as we have years ahead of a meaningless and empty life which holds no value any longer. I hope that the court is not going to succumb to the argument that only people who are terminally ill should have the right — because it’s a “narrow” issue and will take up less court time. That would be disappointing indeed”.

Omid and his legal team will now continue working to gather evidence and expert witnesses before the evidence is heard in July. Omid is relying on experts from around the world, and he still needs funding to help him cover expenses for witnesses. You can donate directly via his CrowdJustice page. FATE are exploring the possibility of intervening in this case and will continue to work alongside Humanists UK, MDMD and Bindmans LLP to promote Omid’s efforts.

“Thank you”, Omid said; “I am only hanging on because of the support people have shown so far!”

Friends at the End welcomes successful Noel Conway appeal

Friends at the End welcome the successful appeal by Noel Conway in his fight for the right to end his own life, at a time of his choosing.

Mr Conway, who has advanced motor neurone disease, was initially refused a hearing at the High Court of England and Wales as part of his bid to legalise assisted dying for those with terminal illnesses and less than six months to live. The overturning of that decision means that this case will go a full hearing in the near future, potentially paving the way for legalisation.

Mr Conway is pursuing his case with the assistance of Dignity in Dying and the law firm Irwin Mitchell. This case is separate from the case brought by Omid and Bindmans LLP, which seeks to legalise assisted dying for people with incurable diseases, but who do not necessarily have a terminal diagnosis.

Friends at the End welcomes both the Conway and Omid cases and gives both appellants their full support. We believe that anyone who wishes to should have the right to end their own life, in a safe and legal manner, and at a time of their own choosing. While these two cases differ significantly regarding restrictions on who should have access to assisted dying, both cases are tremendously important and represent courageous attempts to overturn an unjust law.

Friends at the End pledges support to Omid’s legal campaign

Friends at the End has pledged its support to a new attempt to change the law in favour of assisted dying.

The case, being brought to the High Court of England and Wales by Omid and Bindmans LLP, will focus on legalising assisted dying for those with life changing illnesses and who are expected to live for more than six months. Omid, who suffers from Multiple Systems Atrophy, has difficulty speaking and has lost much control in his arms and hands, meaning he cannot end his own life. He has instead chosen to fight for the right to assisted dying, so he can end his life on his terms at a time of his own choosing.

Friends at the End pledges full support to Omid’s case. As part of this, £500 has been donated towards Omid’s legal fees.

Friends at the End members are encouraged to visit Omid’s CrowdJustice page for the latest updates on the case and for the opportunity to make a donation to support Omid’s legal fees.

Friends at the End celebrate Cross Party Group on End-of-Life Choices

Friends at the End today (Thursday 9th February 2017) welcomed the approval of the Cross Party Group on End-of-Life Choices by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

This represents the first time that assisted dying researchers, advocates and campaigners have had a dedicated forum within the Scottish Parliament to discuss issues of choices which can occur towards the end of someone’s life.

George Adam MSP, convenor of the new Cross Party Group, welcomed the move, saying:

This is an incredible opportunity to have an open, frank discussion on the choices that we are faced with at the end of life. I look forward to being able to having the important debate and discussion, without hiding behind the issues. We want to speak openly and honestly to supporters and opponents of increased choice at the end of life and to face these difficulties head-on.

Sheila Duffy, spokesperson for Friends at the End, said:

During the debate in 2015, the Scottish public demonstrated their overwhelming support for assisted dying. We have worked to keep the debate in the minds of our elected representatives so it can be given the serious consideration that it merits, as well as to discuss the genuine concerns held by some MSPs.

The work of the group will focus on various issues relating to end-of-life choices and assisted dying, with robust debate and analysis of the issue. The group will also seek to work jointly with the CPG on Palliative Care to ensure that valuable service is available and fully funded.

The next meeting of the group, on the 28th of March, will look at Advanced Directives, a tool that allows individuals define their end-of-life wishes, aiding the family and loved ones in the event that they are incapacitated.

Watch the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committe meeting here:

Death of Dr Iain C Kerr

Dr Iain C Kerr Retired GP 11th August 1946 – 13th May 2016

24 May 2016

IainKerrTWO

It is with great regret that FATE has to pass on the sad news that FATE Council member, Iain Kerr, has died.

Dr Iain Kerr, the retired Scottish GP who was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2008 for six months after ‘helping a patient to end her life’, died at his home on the south side of Glasgow surrounded by his close family. Iain Kerr had recently been receiving treatment at the Beatson Hospital in the city for cancer and died peacefully at home in Newton Mearns.

The softly spoken doctor was at the centre of a media storm when he was charged with prescribing sleeping pills to an 87-year-old woman patient, known only as patient ‘A’ — a retired businesswoman — when she expressed a wish to end her life. Iain Kerr was working at Williamwood medical centre in Clarkston at the time and a large number of his patients campaigned in support of their GP when he appeared before the GMC saying he was exactly the kind of family doctor that every patient would want.

The GMC subsequently ruled that Dr Kerr could return to work and all restrictions on his ability to practise were removed in August 2010.

Sixty-nine-year-old Iain Kerr had studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and was married to a nurse and had three grown up children and two grandchildren. Dr Kerr had been a prominent member of Friends at the End, was on the FATE council and was very active in the campaign to have the law on assisted dying changed over the past five years, including being a member of Doctors for Assisted Suicide.

Iain Kerr admitted helping ‘several patients’ to end their lives during his time in medicine and described the current law as ‘an ass’. He was an outspoken supporter of the late Margo Macdonald’s Assisted Suicide Bill, which was defeated at Holyrood last year.

Sheila Duffy, convener of FATE, who was at Edinburgh University at the same time as Iain, says his “quiet authority, sense of humour and compassion will be missed. Iain was a genuine, caring, old-fashioned family doctor that everyone respected and looked to for help and reassurance. He stood up for what he believed in and this cost him dearly, because I know he disliked publicity and found it difficult to deal with. Not everyone knows that Iain was also a keen cyclist, a lifelong runner, a tennis player and a wonderful ballroom dancer. He had a quick wit and always a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Iain was a really lovely person and I personally will miss him terribly.”

We have passed on our condolences to his family.

Holyrood election 2016: writing to your MSP candidates

15 April 2016

The election of Members to the Scottish Parliament will take place throughout Scotland on Thursday, 5th May.

The new Parliament presents an opportunity to continue the momentum towards a change in the law in Scotland on assisted dying. To do that, we need to ensure that future MSPs know the strength of feeling on the issue and know that a majority of Scots want to see law change in the next Parliament.

For that, we need your help.

You will undoubtedly receive election literature from your candidates, so please respond by asking them for their views on assisted dying.

The details of your constituency and regional candidates can be found at  Who Can I Vote For? If you are not yet registered to vote, find out how to Register to vote — remember that the minimum voting age is 16.

A full list of candidates will also be available from your local authority or council in the run-up to the election.

What to say when you write

Please make sure to ask your MSP candidates whether they would support (in principle) legislation in the Scottish Parliament to allow for Assisted Dying.

You may also want to raise some of the following points:

  • Explain why you personally support giving dying people choice at the end of life, perhaps giving examples from your own life as to why a change in the law matters to you.
  • According to a Populus poll in March last year, 83% of Scots want to see a change in the law to allow assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent, adults.
  • The same poll found that 54% of Scots would be more likely to support a politician who supported assisted dying compared to just 9% who would be less likely.

After the election

If you are unable to write to your candidates before the election, please contact those who are newly elected after 5th May and ask if they will support legislation on this topic.

You will be able to find your MSP and their email address on the Scottish Parliament website. You can write to your MSP directly at:

<Name of your MSP>
Scottish Parliament
EDINBURGH
EH99 1SP

…or use the convenient Write to Them website after the election. All you have to do is enter your postcode below, click on Submit and you will be taken directly to the Write To Them website where you can enter your message. Please see their FAQs for some helpful information and advice on writing to your representative.

Contact Your MSP
Enter your Postcode below:
 

Replies

It’s important for us to know as much as possible about where MSPs, both re-elected and new, stand on assisted dying, so if you receive responses from your candidates (or MSPs) please share them with us by forwarding them to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to:

Friends at the End
Kirkhill Office Park
Unit 2, Office 7
Newton Mearns
GLASGOW
G77 5LL

Friends at the End continue to work closely with the Scottish Parliament to move this issue forward and are working in the background to establish a Cross Party Group on End-of-Life issues with our MSPs, when the new Parliament is formed.

We will keep you updated with this.

Death of Dr Libby Wilson

Dr Libby Wilson, 1926–2016

Date: Tuesday 29 March 2016

It is with great regret that we announce that our former convener and medical advisor, Dr Libby Wilson died earlier today in Glasgow.

Libby, who would have celebrated her ninetieth birthday in July, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several weeks ago but refused any further medical treatment and died peacefully at her home in the West End of the city with her family around her.

Right to the end Dr Wilson campaigned tirelessly to have the law in Scotland changed to allow people to die at a time of their choosing, while continuing to help and advise people who called FATE's befriending service. It was Libby who liaised with the two elderly cousins from Troon who travelled to Switzerland two years ago, in order end their lives together, with Dr Erika Preisaig of Life Circle. But they were only two of a large number of people she befriended and advised, helping many to travel to Dignitas.

With her fearless compassion for people and lack of concern about what 'those in charge' thought of her, she was regularly criticised by various church organisations and the establishment. In September 2009, in her eighties, Libby was arrested by Woking police and held in a cell for several hours on suspicion of helping a woman with advanced multiple sclerosis, to take her own life. No charges were ever brought.

Born in Surrey in 1926 she studied medicine at Kings College, London. One of her first jobs was opening a contraceptive clinic for unmarrieds in Sheffield in the sixties — courting much controversy and criticism from local worthies, especially the churches who railed against her in the local papers. Libby announced "It was the best publicity we could ever have hoped for… before then, we had been relatively quiet. After the furore in the press, women (it was mostly women) were queuing round the block to use our services."

Moving to Glasgow with her husband, her early experiences with the domiciliary Family Planning service in the tenements and housing schemes of Glasgow were a sharp learning curve, for a middle-class woman with an English accent, but one she actually relished. Libby came to love the city and its inhabitants.

A pioneer of contraception, abortion and then assisted dying, Dr Wilson was well known for her total compassion for her patients, and down-to-earth no-nonsense attitude, especially in the area of sexual health. When one embarrassed Glasgweigian mumbled something, heeing and hawing at the family planning clinic in Claremont Crescent that she headed, Libby bluntly asked "… is the problem that you are coming too soon, or can't get it up?"

After she retired from the Family Planning service in Glasgow, which she wrote about in her book Sex on the Rates, she spent more than a year in Sierra Leone working with the Marie Stopes International Family Planning Service. She went on to write another book about those experiences in Africa.

Libby's husband, Professor Graham Wilson, who pre-deceased her aged only 59, was also a doctor, she was the daughter of a doctor and two of her children are doctors.

The current convener of FATE, Sheila Duffy, a long time friend of Libby's said:

"Dr Libby Wilson was a doughty fighter for the rights of the individual, but more importantly a warm, friendly, courageous woman who simply loved people and cared what happened to them at the beginning and the end of their life. She will be sorely missed by all those who campaign for real choice."

Euthanasia 2016 International Conference

13 December 2015

Professional Challenges

It is a pleasure to announce that four representatives from Friends at the End will be attending the international conference: Euthanasia 2016.

NVVE is organising this end-of-life-issues biennial international conference in cooperation with the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. The conference will run from 11 to 14 May 2016 and will take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Speakers — scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians, activists — from all over the world will come to present, debate and discuss the possibilities of legalizing end-of-life choices, based on experiences gained e.g. in the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon (USA). For instance there will be a presentation about the Dutch End-of-Life Clinic and contributions from Canada, USA, France, UK, Switzerland, New Zealand among others. In the provisional program you can find out about the different themes.

There are four main themes: medical, science, legal and campaign. In each theme there is a variety of presentations, panel discussions, documentaries and workshops. All themes are accessible to all conference participants. So doctors can participate in program components of the legal issue, lobbyists and lawyers are welcome at presentations of the medical part.

Take a look at the website and sign up for the newsletter to stay informed of all developments related to the World Conference. There will be a full report in the Spring Edition of the Friends at the End Newsletter.

Assisted Suicide Bill (Scotland) - What YOU can do to help

09 January 2014

FATE has joined forces with the Humanist Society of Scotland, the Parliamentary Office of Margo MacDonald MSP and Orbit Communications as part of a major campaign to support Margo in her renewed efforts to change the law on assisted suicide in Scotland.

A small steering group represented the society at a meeting in Edinburgh on Tuesday 7th January to plan the strategy.

The main conclusion that emerged was that ordinary folk are the backbone for getting publicity and support for the Bill, which comes before the Scottish Parliament this year.

Keep an eye open for the new LifeDeathChoice website hosted by the Humanist Society of Scotland, where you can find out more about the Bill, what you can do to get involved and where you can express your views.

There will be a press launch at Holyrood at 1pm on Thursday 30th January. All members of the press are welcome — please contact our Press Officer, Sheila Duffy, for further details.

It is vital that Scottish members of FATE write to their MSP. You can find your MSP and their email address on the Scottish Parliament website or you can write to your MP directly at:

<Name of your MSP>
Scottish Parliament
EDINBURGH
EH99 1SP

…or use the convenient Write to Them website: all you have to do is enter your postcode below and click on Submit and you will be taken directly to the Write To Them website where you can enter your message. Please see their FAQs for some helpful information and advice on writing to your representative.

Contact Your MSP
Enter your Postcode below:

Please write now and let him/her know your views on this very important issue.

Paul Lamb on BBC Newsnight

18 December 2013

Paul Lamb appeared on BBC Newsnight on Monday, interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. This was after the start of his case at the Supreme Court earlier that day.

Dr Libby Wilson spoke to him afterwards:

He was absolutely exhausted and felt he had let the side down as he had had so little energy to speak but I reassured him that what he did was wonderful and his courage in the face of his pain and tiredness said more for his cause than any number of words. He also told me that he had much appreciated Michael Irwin going over to speak to him in the Court, but was so 'moithered' (there is a good Yorkshire word for you) that he had not been able to reply.

After an hour in the Supreme Court he felt too ill to stay longer and managed to rest in a small side room before facing the journey back to his hotel. There was no taxi suitable to transport him so he had to guide his wheelchair, escorted by carers etc from his hotel to the Court, which took over an hour and then back! The BBC managed to find an ambulance, at their expense, to take him to the studio that night.

 

Paul Lamb at the Supreme Court on Monday

14 December 2013

Paul Lamb, a FATE member, paralysed from the neck down, is appearing in London at the Supreme Court, Courtroom 1, second floor, on Monday 16 December 2013 at 11 am to appeal for the right to be legally assisted to die if he so wishes.

He would much appreciate it if any FATE member could be present to support him.

Jane Nicklinson, widow of Tony is joined with him in the case as is 'Martin' — no other details are known.

He can be viewed on TV at 7 am on ITV Daybreak, 10.30 pm on BBC Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman and will be filmed outside broadcast crews between 9.30 am to 10.45 am en route to the Court.

The main news bulletins will certainly include the case throughout the day.

Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People

13 November 2013

In July 2013 the independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) published its report ‘More Care Less Pathway’.

In response to its recommendations, the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People was set up to lead and provide a focus for improving the care for these people and their families in response to the recommendations made in the report.

Workshops are being held around England now to engage with the public and professionals on proposals to improve end-of-life care.

The remaining workshops are:

Friday 15 November 12-4.30pm Crewe Holiday Inn Express, Crewe

Friday 15 November 1.30pm-5.00pm Kent Heart of Kent Hospice, Aylesford

Friday 15 November 1.30pm-5.00pm Preston St Catherine’s Hospice, Preston

Tuesday 19 November 1.30pm-5.00pm West Midlands Marie Curie West Midlands Hospice, Solihull

Friday 22 November 1.30pm-5.00pm Waterlooville The Rowans Hospice, Purbrook

The workshops are being organised by Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Sue Ryder, with support from the National Council for Palliative Care.

The workshops are free to attend and all are welcome, although places are limited.

If you would like to participate in the workshops you can find more information here.

The website of the Nursing and Midwifery Council has more information on the formation of the leadership alliance.

We urge you to take part to ensure your voice is heard.

Proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill

13 November 2013

MSP Margo MacDonald today publishes her proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill

This Bill enables personal CHOICE.

It will legalise Assisted Suicide in specified circumstances within a strong regulatory framework that protects the vulnerable and those who wish on-going care.

Equally, justice means any competent adult whose quality of life is unacceptable because of a terminal or life-shortening illness or condition and has made a pre-declaration to their doctor, should have the right to receive assistance to achieve a pain-free death with dignity at a time of their choice.

This Bill will de-criminalise such assistance.

Surveys consistently show 75–80% of Scots support a change in the law to permit regulated assisted suicide. We need people like you, representing this majority of the population, to add your voice to the debate.

If you do want to see the law changed to permit assisted dying within the robust regulatory framework contained in the Bill, it is essential you contact the Scottish Parliament to state your support.

We ask you to respond in three ways:

  1. Write to Margo MacDonald’s office at: The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  2. Write to your MSP, encouraging her or him to vote for the Bill. We suggest either email, post a letter to your MSP, or contact them via www.writetothem.com
  3. Encourage like-minded friends to write as above.

Why this legislation is important

The Bill:

  • Protects and enables personal choice.
  • De-criminalises compassionate support for a choice to die.
  • Applies to those with a terminal or life-shortening illness who decide their quality of life is no-longer acceptable.
  • Protects the vulnerable and those who wish on-going care, by operating within a strong regulatory framework.
  • Requires personal pre-registration & assessment.
  • Limits provision of assistance to only designated practitioners.

PLEASE ADD TO THE VOICE OF SCOTLAND – SUPPORT THIS BILL

Media coverage

BBC: MSP Margo MacDonald launches new assisted suicide bill

Daily Record: MSP Margo Macdonald launches new bid to change assisted suicide law in Scotland

Edinburgh Evening News: Margo MacDonald’s hope for assisted dying Bill

Margo MacDonald Secures Support from MSPs for the Introduction of New Bill on Assisted Suicide

Press Statement from Margo MacDonald MSP

Embargo : 06:00 Wednesday 19 September 2012

Margo MacDonald has today lodged her second proposal for a Bill on Assisted Suicide. Having collected the eighteen MSP signatures necessary to move forward to the preparation of a Bill, Ms MacDonald said;

Possibly due to the recent sad and shocking coverage of how Tony Nicklinson died, MSPs have a better awareness of the issue. I found more MSPs than last time considering giving support to my Bill.

Also, like last time a couple of the MSPs signed to take the Bill to Stage 1, not because they had already made up their minds on the issue, but because they judged that it should be debated given the level of public interest.

I believe the Bill will benefit from the developments in understanding Assisted Death, due in large part to legal challenges in England.

The Consultation process has been successful in providing even more information about the reality of the end of life experience for a small, but fairly steady number of people, many of whom, according to their loved ones would have chosen to end their lives, rather than allow nature to do so in what they considered to be an intolerable condition.

Note to editors

Any proposal for a Members Bill must secure support from 18 colleagues in order for it to progress further. The proposal lodged this morning has already secured this number and over the coming months Margo MacDonald will be working with the Non-Government Bill Unit (NGBU) to produce a Bill, the text of which should be available in early 2013.

Proposal

Proposal for a Bill to enable a competent adult with a terminal illness or condition to request assistance to end their own life, and to decriminalise certain actions taken by others to provide such assistance.

For further comment please contact: Margo MacDonald MSP on 07968 802852

Ends

Farewell Foundation

13 August 2012

The August newsletter of the Farewell Foundation can be read online here. Please feel free to share it with friends.

Contents:

  • Updates on the Carter case in British Columbia and the Leblanc case in Quebec.
  • Remembering Margaret Lunam, 1921 – 2012
  • Farewell Foundation consultation on Procedures for Attending a Self Chosen Death
  • Pictorial on World Federation of Right to Die Societies, Zurich
  • Farewell Foundation in Scotland
  • Final Exit Network back in court
  • Farewell director receives 5th Marilynne Seguin award 

Farewell Foundation
322 – 720 6th Street
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3C5 Canada
(604) 521-1110

Web: www.farewellfoundation.ca
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Blog: www.farewellfoundation.ca/wordpress/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FarewellFoundation

Consultation on Margo MacDonald MSP Proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill

20 February 2012

Consultation on Margo MacDonald MSP Proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill

We would like to encourage all our supporters to respond to the consultation.

The consultation can be found here. It is a:

Proposal for a Bill to enable a competent adult with a terminal illness or condition to request assistance to end their own life, and to decriminalise certain actions taken by others to provide such assistance.

Closing date: 30 April 2012

Note: To help you submit a response, we have created a Microsoft Word template to fill in electronically and a pdf template that can be printed out and filled in manually.

We urge all our supporters to submit a response — there will be no shortage of responses from those opposed to the Bill, so every contribution will make a difference. Even if you cannot answer all the questions, please respond to the ones you can. Even responding: "I fully support the intention of this proposed legislation" would be very helpful.

Additionally, you could write to your MSP (and send him/her a copy of your response) and contemplate 'popping-in' to the local surgery to discuss it face-to-face. Also note that responses to the consultation are welcomed from outside the UK.