Members of Scottish Parliament still overwhelmingly against assisted suicide

Poll taken by pro-assisted suicide group

By Dave Andrusko

You could almost visualize the disappointment in the story written by Mark McLaughlin for The Times [of London] about the responses of Members of the Scottish Parliament, headlined, “Half of MSPs opposed to assisted dying.”

After one failed legislative initiative after another; after one poll after another supposedly showing public support for “assisted dying,” nonetheless 56% of the Members of the Scottish Parliament still “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” changing the law.

And the survey was taken not by an organization opposed to assisted suicide but rather by Dignity in Dying Scotland.

The 56% actually underestimates the opposition: “Only 27 per cent of MSPs support a change in the law,” McLaughlin reported.

Back in May 2015, MSP Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide Bill was overwhelmingly defeated by 82 votes to 36 votes. This was the second time a bill introduced by the late Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP, was defeated. (She died in April 2014 before the second vote was taken.)

When the Scottish assisted suicide bill got “short shrift from MSPs” (to quote Peter Saunders, Saunders explained why:

It was proposing an ‘Oregon type system’ with trained ‘licensed facilitators’ but with a wide scope for mentally competent adults (under 16) with a ‘terminal or life-shortening illness’ or a ‘progressive and terminal or life-shortening condition’ who have concluded that the ‘quality of their life is unacceptable’.

The bill has been heavily criticized for its relativistic definitions, poor reporting provisions, minimal penalties, a ‘saving’ clause protecting doctors acting in ‘good faith’, no specification of ‘means’ of suicide and the absence of a conscience clause.

After the vote, Dr. Gordon Macdonald, of Care Not Killing Scotland, said

‘MSPs have issued a ringing endorsement of our views with this comprehensive vote, taking a bold and critical step which marks a major victory for the vulnerable in our society who are most in need of protection. The present law making assisted suicide illegal is clear and right and does not need changing.’

‘In every free democratic society there are limits placed on human freedom in order to protect the common good and vulnerable people. It is right that the law is not to be changed to accommodate the wishes of a small number of desperate and determined people at the expense of the rights of others.’

The legislation would have made Scotland the first part of the UK to legalize assisted suicide.

In September 2015 Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill was also overwhelmingly defeated by members of the British House of Commons, 330 to 118.