Public’s views sought on removing end-of-life protections in Scotland

Liam McArthur MSP is moving ahead with his plan to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

McArthur has begun the required public consultation on his proposal to allow vulnerable people to get help to kill themselves. Once complete, it will be considered by MSPs.

The proposal has already sparked fierce opposition from politicians, medical experts, commentators and religious groups.

‘No return’

In July, almost two hundred medics urged Health Secretary Humza Yousaf not to change the law.

This week, the Church of Scotland warned that introducing assisted suicide for vulnerable people would represent a “crossing of the Rubicon from which there would be no return”.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness, a former Scottish Lib Dem leader and current Moderator of the General Assembly, said the Kirk would oppose any moves to introduce assisted suicide “in all its forms”.

Serious threat

Last month, Murdo Fraser MSP said the move was “not a step forward” but a return to the values of a cruel pre-Christian world, where suicide was glorified.

Herald newspaper columnists Andrew McKie and Kevin McKenna have both argued that the proposals pose a serious threat to vulnerable and disabled people.

And Director of Research for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics Dr Calum MacKellar said: “If assisted suicide is legalised, it would be the first time Scottish society, through its Parliament, would accept that a human life may be unworthy of life.”


Two assisted suicide Bills have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament since 2010.

Most recently, in 2015, 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 parties 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:

SNP pledges to consider legalising assisted suicide if re-elected

‘In a civilised society every life has value’, says bioethicist

Assisted suicide law ‘protects vulnerable from pressure to end their lives’