‘Significant flaws’ in Scotland’s assisted suicide Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee has said that plans to introduce assisted suicide in Scotland are significantly flawed.

The committee has heard varied arguments against the controversial Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill in recent months.

Earlier this month, medical ethics experts robustly challenged the suggestion that an assisted suicide Bill is needed in Scotland because of a ‘lack of clarity’ in the law.


A report by the Health and Sport Committee says: “The committee believes the bill contains significant flaws. These present major challenges as to whether the bill can be progressed.”

It notes the observation by the British Medical Association that “there is no way to guarantee the absence of coercion in the context of assisted suicide”.

And it points out that there is an “unacceptable” lack of clarity in some of the language in the Bill.


The report was drawn up after submissions were made by more than 800 people and organisations and oral evidence was given by more than 30 groups and individuals.

Those who gave evidence included academics, health care professionals, ethicists and religious groups.

The assisted suicide Bill, proposed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, is expected to be voted on before the end of May.


Earlier this month, Care Not Killing’s Dr Gordon Macdonald said the plans to introduce assisted suicide are “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”.


A petition against the proposals has been signed by over 15,000 people.

Related Resources