BY Ian Dunn | May 8 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


MSPs set to reject flawed assisted suicide proposal

Bill puts pressure on vulnerable people to kill themselves, says expert

The Scottish Parliament appears poised to reject the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill after the Holyrood committee reviewing the controversial legislation said that it contained ‘significant flaws.’

Holyrood’s health and sport committee reported that—as it is a matter of conscience—it had chosen to make no formal recommendation to parliament on the bill, which means the Scottish Parliament will vote on the bill in its current form. That will happen before the end of May and MSPs are expected to reject it.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office who backs the Church’s opposition to the bill, told the SCO he believed the chances of the bill progressing are ‘very, very slim and rightfully so.’

Gordon Macdonald of the campaign group Care Not Killing said it would be ‘absolutely astonishing’ if a majority of MSPs voted for the proposals to legalise assisted suicide to pass stage 1 in the Scottish Parliament after the committee was so critical of it. Among the ‘significant flaws’ highlighted by the health and sport committee were that ‘there are ways of responding to suffering which do not raise the kind of concerns about crossing a legal and ethical “Rubicon” that are raised by assisted suicide,’ that the bill contains no requirement ‘for mandatory psychiatric assessment’ to any request for assisted suicide by a person… with a history of mental disorder, and that ‘legislation to permit assisted suicide seems discordant with a wider policy of suicide prevention by “normalising” suicide and seeming to endorse it.’

Mr Macdonald highlighted that the leaders of Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have all said they are opposed to the legislation of assisted suicide.

“They clearly understand it would bring pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives and put the elderly and disabled at risk of abuse as well as very ill young children,” he said

Green MSP Patrick Harvie who is behind the bill said he was open to suggestions as to how the legislation could be strengthened.

Labour MSP Michael McMahon, a Catholic and an opponent of the bill, told the SCO: “I hope that any of my colleagues who remain open to persuasion appreciate the criticisms of the bill contained in the report and that this leads to this dangerous proposal receiving the firm rejection it deserves.”




—This story ran in full in the May 8 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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