Assisted suicide campaigners optimistic - despite defeat

Margo cropped

An assisted suicide bill was first brought forward by the late Margo MacDonald MSP in 2008

Assisted suicide legislation will be enacted in Scotland when politicians catch up with the views of their constituents, say campaigners

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28th May 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Assisted suicide legislation will be enacted in Scotland – when politicians catch up with the views of their constituents.

That’s the view of campaigners who said that the general public are much more in favour of laws allowing those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to obtain help to end their suffering than lawmakers are.

MSPs this week voted by an overwhelming 81 to 36 majority to throw out a bill which would have legalised assisted suicide.

However, campaign group My Life, My Death, My Choice – which was set up to support the move – said society’s views had shifted hugely and that there is increased backing among the public.

Although disappointed, we are emboldened by the increasing support for our cause both amongst MSPs and the wider public

Spokesman Bob Scott said: “Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the assisted suicide bill has failed to attract enough support to progress at stage 1, it is worth noting that support is more than double what it was for a similar attempt in 2008.

“This shows that politicians are increasingly ill at ease with the current law surrounding assisted suicide and are beginning to catch up with the views of their constituents.

“It may be that MSPs had concerns about some of the details in this bill but the principle that a change in the law needs to be examined seriously has been established.

“We will keep fighting to convince MSPs to find a way to deliver this change quickly and in a responsible manner which protects vulnerable groups, representing the clear desire of the Scottish people.

“Although disappointed with the result, we are emboldened by the increasing support for our cause both amongst MSPs and the wider public.”

Opponents of the bill included disability charity Inclusion Scotland, which argued that the legislation could have seen pressure being put on elderly or disabled people to kill themselves.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, convenor of Care Not Killing (CNK) in Scotland, described the vote as “a bold and critical step which marks a major victory for the vulnerable in our society”.

He added: “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.

“Vulnerable people who are sick, elderly or disabled can so easily feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. Parliament's first responsibility is to protect the vulnerable and that is what has happened.

“The work of CNK will continue in time to come as we emphasise the importance of palliative care - because the pro-euthanasia lobby is not going to give up.

“That is why we must remain ever vigilant and on alert to challenge and debunk their dark and deathly propaganda which offers a vision of the future which has no place in Scottish civilised society.”