Scottish Parliament must avoid perceived ‘bias’ over assisted suicide Bill

Holyrood must not allow Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill to be scrutinised by a committee where 50 per cent of members publicly backed the proposals, campaigners have warned.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone, Care Not Killing’s Chief Executive Dr Gordon Macdonald called for a separate committee of MSPs who have not expressed views on the issue to examine the proposals instead of the Health, Social Care & Sport Committee.

Under McArthur’s Bill, tabled in Holyrood last month, end-of-life protections would be removed to allow vulnerable people to seek help from a doctor to kill themselves. In such cases, their death would be recorded as natural rather than suicide.

‘Conflicts of interest’

Dr Macdonald warned: “It is quite clear that there is enormous potential for conflicts of interest when you consider that 50 per cent of the committee members have already expressed support for this Bill in public. Ordinary voters might reasonably consider these individuals could possibly be biased in favour of the Bill.

“This Bill is much too important to have any shadows of doubt hanging over the work of the scrutinising committee.”

He highlighted that while Holyrood prevents MSPs who propose a Bill from sitting on the committee analysing their legislation, the same prohibition should also apply to those who add their names in support of a Bill.

Of the ten members of the health committee, five signed in favour of McArthur’s proposals.


Earlier this month, Scotland’s former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed that she is increasingly unconvinced by arguments to legalise assisted suicide because of the impact on care for the vulnerable.

Writing in the Glasgow Times, the MSP for Glasgow Southside explained that while reconsidering the issue, she was surprised to find herself “veering away from a vote in favour” of Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill.

First Minister Humza Yousaf, along with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross, have all publicly opposed legislation to introduce assisted suicide in Scotland.

Also see:


Legalising assisted suicide in Scotland would cross a ‘bright red moral line’

Belgium: Insurance boss backs euthanasia for elderly to save money

Netherlands: Physically healthy young woman scheduled to die by euthanasia

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