Monday, 25 January 2010

Is Martin Amis in the Year 3000?

Maybe Martin Amis has been watching too much Futurama when he came up with his statement about euthanasia booths. But to come out with the suggestion of such contraptions on street corners at the end of a week that Margo MacDonald produced a sane and grounded bill on assisted suicide in the Scottish Parliament is crash mistiming on the authors part.

While Amis talks of a 'silver tsunami' and a 'civil war' between young and old and lays out a retail mentality. Margo has safeguards in her bill to prevent Scotland becoming like Switzerland and a home for assisted death 'tourism' by including the 18 month residency and registration with a domestic GP for 18 months. Margo also has build in safeguards the GP and psychiatric appraisals at least 15 days apart, and the proviso this is only insists that the patient must be diagnosed as terminally ill and finds life intolerable or be permanently physically incapacitated to such an extent as not to be able to live independently and finds life intolerable.

Margo maintains the human element, and the rationale. The GP must minister the lethal dose and it cannot be administered by a family member. Amis will just have a machine carry out the deed, no feed back no last minute chance to back out.

Of course Amis is never one to shirk controversy as his comments show:

"They'll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops. I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years' time.

"There should be a booth on every ­corner where you could get a martini and a medal."

Of course dementia sufferers are actually excluded from Margo's position as the old legal requirement of being 'of sound mind' is one which in legalese is still important. It shows that Margo has put 18 months of thought into the specifics while Amis was just making an off the cuff comment. Maybe he really shouldn't have watched the pilot of Matt Groenig's sci-fi series just before giving the interview.

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