Vulnerable protected as MSPs reject assisted suicide Bill

MSPs have voted comprehensively to reject a Bill which would have legalised assisted suicide in Scotland.

Yesterday, members voted against the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill by 82 votes to 36.

Those voting against the Bill included First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Law is clear

The Bill sought to allow people as young as 16 to get help to kill themselves.

Before the vote, many MSPs stated their opposition to the proposals in a debate.

Shona Robison, the Scottish health secretary said: “The government believes that the current law is clear, and it is not lawful to assist someone to commit suicide, and the government has no plans to change that.”

Deeply disturbing

Conservative MSP Dr Nanette Milne, a former cancer researcher and anaesthetist, said she could not support the Bill.

She said: “Personally, as a former health professional, the idea of actively and deliberately hastening death by assisting someone to die is deeply disturbing for me.

“And I share the view of many professional colleagues that to legislate for this would risk undermining patient trust in doctors and medical advice.”

‘Victory for the vulnerable’

The result was welcomed by campaign group Care Not Killing (CNK), which described it as a victory for the vulnerable.

Convener of the group, Dr Gordon Macdonald, said: “MSPs have issued a ringing endorsement of our views with this comprehensive vote, taking a bold and critical step which marks a major victory for the vulnerable in our society who are most in need of protection.

“In every free democratic society there are limits placed on human freedom in order to protect the common good and vulnerable people.

“It is right that the law is not to be changed to accommodate the wishes of a small number of desperate and determined people at the expense of the rights of others.”

Palliative care

Dr Macdonald said that the work of CNK will continue to emphasise the importance of palliative care, “because the pro-euthanasia lobby is not going to give up.”

In England and Wales a previous Bill to legalise assisted suicide failed to reach second reading before Parliament dissolved.

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