New bid for assisted suicide in Scotland moves forward

A Scottish politician has gathered enough signatures from a handful of MSPs to have a second attempt at legalising assisted suicide.

Margo MacDonald MSP, who has Parkinson’s disease, was overwhelmingly defeated on her previous attempt.

But she hopes recent court cases in England, like that of Tony Nicklinson who recently died after failing to change the law on euthanasia, have shifted the public mood.


Her previous bill was soundly rejected in 2010 by 85 votes to 16 in the Scottish Parliament.

Earlier this year she announced her intention to try again. At the time critics spoke out against her.

Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, said: “These proposals are asking the people of Scotland to agree that there are lives that should be ended.


“That there is such a thing as a ‘life unworthy of life’, which is a concept that should never be accepted in a civilised society.”

And a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association Scotland said: “The BMA is opposed to assisted suicide and physician-assisted suicide.

“Despite the fact that there have been some changes since the last Bill, we still oppose the Bill on principle.”


Speaking since getting enough support from MSPs to have another try, Margo MacDonald said: “Possibly due to the recent sad and shocking coverage of how Tony Nicklinson died, MSPs have a better awareness of the issue.

“I found more MSPs than last time considering giving support to my Bill.”

She added: “I believe the Bill will benefit from the developments in understanding Assisted Death, due in large part to legal challenges in England.


“The consultation process has been successful in providing even more information about the reality of the end of life experience for a small, but fairly steady number of people, many of whom, according to their loved ones, would have chosen to end their lives rather than allow nature to do so in what they considered to be an intolerable condition.”

The text of the new Bill is expected to be produced early next year.

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