BY Ian Dunn | November 26 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


MSPs advised to reject Margo’s bill

End of Life Assistance Bill looks unlikely to gain sufficient support to become law

MSPs HAVE been advised to reject Margo MacDonald’s controversial assisted suicide bill, to the delight of church leaders and pro-life groups.

The Health and Sports Committee has ruled that it could not recommend that the End of Life Assistance Bill, designed to give seriously ill people over the age of 16 the right to take their own life, be passed into law.

The Scottish Parliament are expected to hold a for a free vote on the Independent MSP’s bill next week and opponents of the controversial legislation were very confident that it would be rejected.

Confidence is high

John Deighan, the Catholic Church in Scotland’s parliamentary officer, said he was optimistic the bill would fail.

“I’m very confident we’ll see a strong vote against Margo’s bill,” he said. “I think that will send a powerful message to the pro life community around the world that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws can and must be rejected.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has been a strong supporter of the Care Not Killing campaign against Ms MacDonald’s bill, said he looked forward to its defeat and that Scotland now had to reconsider the best way to care for the sick and dying.

“I am delighted that the bill is turning out to be unsuccessful and I am proud of, and would like to thank, the Scottish people for their campaign against it,” he said. “I urge greater support for our hospices, which are very much in need of not just support from charities but also government support. Care is needed for each and every person who requires it.”

Positive signs

It became clear that the bill had virtually no chance of passing onto law last week after the committee of MSPs examining it comprehensively rejected it and urged their colleagues to vote against it.

“In the last few months, we have taken evidence on the bill’s proposals from a wide range of organisations including medical practitioners, palliative care charities, religious groups and legal experts based in the UK and overseas,” Ross Finnie, the committee convener, said. “Following detailed discussions on the evidence, we’ve concluded that there are several flaws in the bill.

“Fundamentally, the committee wrestled with the bill’s premise that it would help maintain an individual’s dignity and autonomy as they move towards the end of their life.”


The committee also reported that making a case on the grounds of ‘dignity’ was problematic in defining ‘with dignity’ and that grounds of individual ‘autonomy’ were not accepted by all members of the committee. It said there was a strong view that individual choice had to be considered within the context of society as a whole.

The report also found it would have been clearer for ‘assisted suicide’ and ‘voluntary euthanasia’ to have been dealt with as separate provisions, rather than combining them under one definition.


Pic: John Deighan presents Care Not Killing petition postcards against the End of Life Assistance Bill to MSPs earlier this year, an exercise he repeated this month as more objections came in

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