McArthur Bill misrepresents assisted suicide, palliative care body warns

A collaboration of over 100 organisations has criticised Liam McArthur’s assisted suicide Bill for using the term ‘assisted dying’.

The Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (SPPC) raised concerns in response to the public consultation on the MSP’s Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill. If passed, the proposals would remove legal protections for patients who are believed to be terminally ill.

The SPPC said the term ‘assisted dying’ confused palliative care with assisted suicide, which deliberately ends life with the self-administration of lethal medication.


The organisation called the Bill’s language “alarmist”, saying “public confusion and fear can be further exacerbated when campaigners and advocates for assisted dying present the issue as a binary choice between assisted dying or an agonising death”.

The SPPC warned that, if passed, the Bill would likely be followed by a broadening of those deemed eligible for assisted suicide.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing, welcomed the criticism of the McArthur Bill, which he said “has not been thought through”.

Responses to the pubic consultation on the proposals, which closed in December, are currently being analysed. A report will be published in due course.


Last month, the world’s largest body representing palliative care doctors shared how its members believe media bias is motivating individuals to support the removal of end-of-life protections.

The Association for Palliative Medicine’s survey found that nearly nine in ten respondents (87 per cent) felt there had not been enough press coverage on “good deaths”.

One doctor said: “I wish there would be a lot more publicity and promotion about all positive experiences of death and dying that occur across the country”, adding that negative stories often “overshadow all the good work that’s carried out by palliative care teams”.


Two assisted suicide Bills have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament since 2010, most recently in 2015, when MSPs rejected Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill by 82 votes to 36.

A majority of MSPs in both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour voted against the Bill, with MSPs from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the SNP also rejecting the legislation, but both Scottish Green MSPs at the time voted in favour of the Bill.

Also see:


Psychiatrist: ‘Assisted suicide and euthanasia should have no part in Irish society’

Junior doctors reject assisted suicide push in Scotland

Assisted suicide gives ‘unaccountable power’ over the vulnerable, Bishop warns

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