Scotland: No doubt that assisted suicide is illegal

Medical ethics experts have robustly challenged the suggestion that an assisted suicide Bill is needed in Scotland because of a ‘lack of clarity’ in the law.

Dr Gordon Macdonald and Dr Calum MacKellar, alongside the Roman Catholic Church’s John Deighan, all spoke out against changing the law in letters to the Herald newspaper.

On Tuesday, academics, with the backing of a pro-assisted suicide group, said that plans to introduce the practice in Scotland should be supported by MSPs.


However, Dr Macdonald, from pro-life group Care Not Killing, said the proposals are unethical and would cause vulnerable people to suffer.

Dr MacKellar noted that MSPs have previously said Scottish law is “perfectly clear” on the issue.

And Deighan, a Parliamentary Officer for the Roman Catholic Church, commented, “surely the law has been, is and will remain clear to police and prosecuting authorities”.


The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill seeks to allow people as young as 16 to get help to kill themselves.

It was proposed by the late Margo MacDonald, and is now spearheaded by Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

Writing about his concerns, Dr Gordon Macdonald said the proposal was “unnecessary, unethical and dangerous”.


He said: “In today’s individualistic society the pressures on sick, disabled and elderly people to avoid placing ‘unfair’ burdens on others are very great.

“Maintaining the law’s protection of this silent and vulnerable majority is more important than giving choices to a minority of strong-minded and highly resolute people.

“This bill is flawed both in principle and in detail and should be rejected by the Scottish Parliament at the earliest opportunity”, Macdonald concluded.


Last month a petition against the proposals passed 10,000 signatures.

In January former Free Church of Scotland Moderator and retired surgeon Revd Dr Donald MacDonald said that if we believe we are made in the image of God, we have a responsibility to “care for one another throughout our lives”.

Jewish leader Ephraim Borowski said the Bill is pushing the belief that “some lives are not worth as much as others”.

And Dr Salah Beltagui, of the Muslim Council of Scotland, said the Bill would foster “mistrust between the medical profession and the general public”.

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