Committee reject Euthanasia and Suicide Bill

The Scottish Parliamentary Committee looking at the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill today overwhelming rejected the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Scotland.

CAring handsThe End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee rejected the End of Live Assistance (Scotland) Bill by 5 votes to 1 vote.

One of the main problems with how the Bill was worded is that the breadth of people the Bill would have impacted would be so wide as to include people with heart disease and Type 1 diabetes, as well as those suffering from terminal illnesses.

The inadequacy of the safeguards against undue influence on people to end their lives has been identified in the report, as has the negative impact such a Bill would have on the disabled.

It also firmly comes down on the side of protecting the interests of society rather than allowing the notion of personal autonomy to be stretched to permit assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The Bill’s lack of objectivity and clarity have also been criticised - indeed the committee recognised that it even fails to use the terms voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The lack of a conscience clause, and the question of the level of competence of those involved in any such process, shows that regulation of the medical profession would have to be examined if such an option were ever available.

CARE for Scotland Manager Bill Baird said: “This is a welcome outcome and a fair assessment of the End of Life Bill. Evidence has emerged from countries like the Netherlands or in the US state Oregon which clearly shows the weakness of changing end of life laws particularly in relation to the disproportionate danger such changes pose to vulnerable people. We currently have the balance right, so we are happy with the outcome of the report.”

All in all, this is a comprehensive rejection of a Bill which would have posed an enormous danger to many people and would have seriously undermined the dignity of sick and dying people in society.
CARE is pleased that the Committee has provided a thorough analysis of the bill and highlighted its many dangers. Aside from the fact that the bill proposes legalizing assisted suicide, one of the main problems with it is the range of conditions it would cover beyond terminal illness.

Chief Executive of CARE, Nola Leach said: “It is paramount that in all parts of the United Kingdom the laws which protect human life particularly at the later stage of life are upheld. We should be proud of the fact that the UK offers the best palliative care in the world, so rather than changing the law we need to continue to support palliative care. Death is not a choice like any other.”

The bill has yet to be presented to the Scottish Parliament and is due to be voted on by the whole parliament in plenary on either the 24th or 25th of November. The proposed legislation has been championed by veteran parliamentarian Margo Macdonald MSP. Parkinson’s disease sufferer Ms MacDonald, who rejected claims that her bill could result in up to 1,000 deaths a year, claimed most MSPs on the committee had a “known hostility” to the basic principle of her proposals.

See article Assisted suicide: the thin end of the wedge where a letter from Brian Ross and an article from Dr. Stephen Hutchison (Highland Hospice) address the subject of euthanasia.

CARE/Christians Together, 18/11/2010

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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Archive > Social Issues > Health Issues > Committee reject Euthanasia and Suicide Bill