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.
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Notes to Editors
- Friends at the End is a Scottish based organisation promoting knowledge about end-of-life choices. Choice is available at every stage in our lives except death — not everyone dies an easy death, and FATE believes in choosing how, when and where we make our exit when we have physically suffered enough.
- Assisted dying is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Switzerland and six states in the United States of America.
- Cross Party Groups are apolitical discussion groups within the Scottish Parliament, where members of the public and interested organisations can contribute to wider discussions.
Dr Libby Wilson, 1926–2016
For immediate publication and broadcast
Date: Tuesday 29 March 2016
It is with great regret that the organisation Friends at the End, which campaigns in favour of assisted dying, announces that its 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."
Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact Sheila Duffy.
Date: 13 January 2016
For immediate publication and broadcast
Death of right-to-die campaigner, Gordon Ross
Gordon Ross, the 67 year old disabled man from Glasgow and Right-to-Die campaigner has died in hospital in Glasgow today surrounded by his family and friends.
Gordon, who had multiple health problems including Parkinsons, was confined to a wheelchair, and was admitted to hospital in Glasgow last week with pneumonia and died as a result of that and his other medical issues.
A retired TV producer and Humanist Celebrant, Gordon was a member of Friends At The End (FATE), an organisation campaigning for a change in the law on assisted dying and in Scotland. Prior to his death, Gordon had been pursuing legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to clarify Scots law regarding the position of anyone who might help him to end his own life. A decision regarding Gordon’s legal case will be made in due course after legal consultation.
Sheila Duffy Convener of FATE, and a friend of Gordon’s, paid tribute to him saying:
"Gordon was a doughty fighter who passionately believed the law should be changed. Despite his numerous health problems which would have floored a lesser individual, he worked tirelessly to support the assisted dying cause, and never lost his sense of humour. Our thoughts are with his family, who supported his stance, at this sad time."
Notes to Editors
Family members will not be available for interview at this time.
Date: 31 July 2013
For immediate release
Friends at the End, the organisation that campaigns for a change in the law to allow physician-assisted suicide in the UK, is saddened and disappointed by today’s judgement.
Paul Lamb is a courageous member of FATE, who overcame enormous difficulties to put his case in person to the Court of Appeal in London.
He had hoped he would be allowed to have assistance to die when he feels he can no longer endure the constant pain and helplessness which he experiences every day.
In his own words "I'll continue the fight to the bitter end if need be".
Dr Libby Wilson, Medical convener of FATE and a friend of Paul’s, is available for interview via 0141 334 3287.
Paul Lamb’s contact details are contained in the press release from Bindmans solicitors.
Date: 31 January 2013
FATE, the Friends at the End campaigning group, is holding an open meeting at 2.30pm on Saturday 9th February at Renfield St. Stephen Church, Bath Street, Glasgow to give its members, interested parties and members of the public an opportunity to hear the basic evidence for the contrary beliefs in the assisted dying debate — especially important in view of MSP Margo MacDonald's impending bill to allow physician assisted suicide in Scotland.
Putting the case for a change is the Rev Scott McKenna the controversial parish minister at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church in Edinburgh, who contends that physician assisted suicide is NOT anti-Christian.
Opposing him is the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, associate minister of Dunblane Cathedral and convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society council.
You are invited to attend this meeting on the day, or if you wish more information in advance, contact the following:
Sheila Duffy FATE Press Officer
Dr Libby Wilson Fate Convener and medical advisor
Rev Scott McKenna: 0131 668 1286 or 07894 503 626
Rev Sally Foster-Fulton: 01786 825388 or 07850 937 226
Margo MacDonald MSP: 07968 802 852
With Margo MacDonald's latest attempt to have the law changed, this event will be of great interest to the public and the press.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY 3RD APRIL 2011
FATE, the Glasgow based Right to Die organisation, confirmed today that one of its leading members travelled to Switzerland last month, with two FATE members by her side, to end her own life.
Speaking in Glasgow, Dr Libby Wilson, FATE’s Convenor and Medical Advisor said "While we support Nan Maitland’s motives and method of death, we (and indeed she no doubt) regret that it was necessary to travel so far from home in order to die with dignity and in the manner of one’s own choice".
A memorial service took place in London last Tuesday to celebrate the life of Nan, an occupational therapist with a long time connection with the Assisted Suicide cause.
Nan was an active member of Friends At The End for many years. During this time, she wrote excellent book reviews for the FATE Newsletter, organized FATE meetings in London, and advised many individuals, in the UK, on how to travel to Switzerland for a physician-assisted suicide (actually, accompanying one person there in 2005).
Last month (March 1st), in her 85th year, Nan Maitland had a physician-assisted suicide in Switzerland. Before she left home in Chelsea, London, Nan had written the following message which she asked Dr Michael Irwin, who accompanied her on her last journey, to send to her "Dear Friends and Colleagues in the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies" after her death:
By the time you read this, with the help of FATE and the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep, never to wake.
For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called 'prolonged dwindling', that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.
Please be happy for me that I have been able to escape from this, for me, unbearable future. I have had a wonderful life, and the great good fortune to die at a time of my choosing, and in the good company of two FATE colleagues. With my death, on March 1st, I feel I am fully accepting the concept of 'old age rational suicide' which I have been very pleased to promote, as a founder member of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS) in the past fifteen months.
Being active in the right-to-die movement, both in the UK and globally, has been an enormously important part of my life in the last few years. It has been wonderful and inspiring to meet so many amazing people who have been determined, often in the face of great odds, to help others to a peaceful pain-free death. I really hope that everybody's important and vital efforts will continue, and result in legalized assisted dying becoming a reality in many more areas of the world in the coming years.
Best wishes, Nan Maitland
Liz Nichols, a member of the FATE Council, and Dr. Michael Irwin were with Nan when she had a very peaceful and dignified death.
Dr Libby Wilson can be contacted on 0141 334 3287
Or Sheila Duffy Press and Publicity Officer 0141 334 6336