Delay to Scottish assisted suicide bill

The Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP who pledged to bring forward assisted suicide proposals this year has said that a bill will be introduced at the start of next year instead.

Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney and a Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, cites an ‘unprecedented’ response to a consultation on his plans as a reason for the delay.

Mr McArthur’s plans would make it legal for doctors in Scotland to prescribe patients who have terminal illness with a lethal cocktail of drugs to enable them to commit suicide.

A spokesperson for the Better Way campaign, which opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia proposals in the UK, commented:

“It is notable that Mr McArthur has pushed back the timetable initially proposed for his bill given the huge response to it. You would expect a strong reaction to plans that pose unprecedented dangers to society, and this is exactly what we’ve seen.

“In countries that allow assisted suicide, safeguards supposed to prevent coercion and abuse have failed. Laws have been incrementally extended, and structural inequalities have been compounded. Campaigners in the UK cannot play down these facts.

“Evidence also shows that suicide prevention in wider society is undermined by the practice. And that assisted suicide itself is deeply traumatic to patients – not painless, peaceful, and dignified as proponents suggest.

“With evidence of huge dangers, affecting the most vulnerable and disenfranchised groups in society, MSPs have a moral and ethical duty not to allow physician assisted suicide in Scotland. We hope they will reject the forthcoming bill as they have others in the past.”


Notes for Editors:

The Better Way campaign is supported by:

Dr Miro Griffiths, Leverhulme Research Fellow in Disability Studies, and policy adviser to regional, national, and supranational bodies.

Phil Friend, Chair of Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC), Vice Chair of the Activity Alliance, a Churchill Fellow and a former chair of Disability Rights UK and RADAR.

Dr Kevin Yuill, a lecturer in History at the University of Sunderland and author of Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation.

Dr Ashley Frawley, senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at Swansea University in Wales.

David Albert Jones MA (Cantab), MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University, a Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre.

Joel Zivot MD, FRCP(C) MA, practicing anesthesiologist, intensive care doctor and expert witness.

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