Scotland Doctor Iain Kerr Vows Never to Engage in Assisted Suicide Again

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scotland Doctor Iain Kerr Vows Never to Engage in Assisted Suicide Again

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 16
, 2009

Glasgow, Scotland ( — A doctor suspended for six months after prescribing sleeping tablets to an elderly patient so she could take her own life says he will not discuss assisted suicide when he returns to work. Iain Kerr will be allowed to return to work under supervision, according to a recent ruling, but will remain silent on euthanasia.

A panel of the General Medical Council decided that Kerr’s fitness to practice was still impaired and imposed 12 conditions to which he will have to adhere for the next 18 months.

Now, Kerr says he has revoked his membership in the Euthanasia Society.

"Under no circumstances would I do it again. There is no place for doctors to assist suicide in this country under the present legal framework," he told the London Daily Mail. "If the law is to be changed, it must be politicians and lawyers who draft the changes."

Asked if he would support an effort in the British Parliament to overturn the ban Britain has on assisted suicide, Kerr would only talk about his own lack of participation.

"There is definitely room for debate. I am not a member of the Euthanasia Society now and I will not be getting involved in it again," he told the newspaper.

Under the conditions of his return, Kerr, based at Williamwood Medical Centre in Clarkston, Glasgow, will not be allowed to prescribe certain medication, including the sleeping tablets prescribed for the 87-year-old woman.

A supervisor will be appointed to review his work regularly and Kerr will be asked to produce a personal development plan looking at end-of-life care, record-keeping and safe prescribing.

Kerr’s registration to practice medicine was temporarily withdrawn in July after a GMC panel heard that 11 years ago the GP had prescribed sodium amytal to a woman, known as Patient A, to enable her to take her own life.

"It has been extremely frustrating being off work and I will be glad to be going back," he told the Daily Mail. "I do regret the fact my actions had such widespread repercussions for patients and my family."

He claimed just one letter out of 170 he received condemned him for helping his patient take her life instead of providing her with proper medical treatment.

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