BY Peter Diamond | October 4 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Euthanasia and abortion may be subject to referendums in Scotland

The Catholic Church this week said referendums can be ‘divisive’ and that politicians have expertise and time to ‘scutinise major issues in depth’.

Scotland could potentially hold referendums on ‘moral issues’ such as abortion and euthanasia, according to a Scottish Government minister in charge of a ‘Referendums Bill’ which is currently being scrutinised in the Scottish Parliament.

Responding to the comments, the Church warned that referendums can be ‘divisive.’

The Scottish Government’s constitution secretary Michael Russell revealed the details after fellow MSPs at the finance and constitution committee quizzed him last week.

Moral issues

The piece of legislation is currently going through the Scottish Parliament to ‘lay the groundwork’ for the Scottish Government’s plans to potentially hold a second independence referendum next year.

Mr Russell revealed that framework legislation would allow any type of referendum to take place, including those on ‘moral issues’ such as abortion and assisted dying.

Mr Russell said independence was not the ‘only thing’ the bill could be used for, though the Scottish Government was ‘committed to an independence referendum and this was the means by which it could happen.’

Asked by Scottish Conservative Adam Tomkins what other referendums were being considered by the government, Mr Russell said: “I can speak only for my portfolio… Other colleagues would no doubt have views on the matter; none of those issues is presently government policy, because colleagues have not brought them forward. I have, however, indicated that an area of moral concern might be part of such consideration.


“Moral issues such as abortion or assisted dying might be subject to a referendum in Scotland.”

The Catholic Church this week said referendums can be ‘divisive’ and that politicians have expertise and time to ‘scutinise major issues in depth’.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said: “While referendums can be useful for major constitutional questions, they can be divisive.

“We elect parliamentarians to represent our interests on the big political and social questions, including abortion and assisted dying.

“Parliamentarians have access to resources and expertise and are able to set aside many hours to scrutinise major issues in great depth.”


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