Scottish Parliament rejects assisted suicide Bill

The Scottish Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected a Bill to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

MSPs were given a free vote yesterday, allowing them to vote according to their consciences rather than along party lines. The End of Life Assistance Bill was crushed by 85-16.

Gordon Macdonald, of the Care Not Killing alliance said it was a fantastic result and a “victory for the most vulnerable in our community”.

In rejecting the controversial legislation, he said MSPs recognised that legalising assisted suicide would “seriously endanger public safety” and had instead given a ringing endorsement to palliative care.

“The sheer magnitude of [the Bill’s] defeat should settle this issue in Scotland for a generation,” he said.

“The key argument that decided this vote and the similar votes in the House of Lords in 2006 and 2009 is a simple one. The right to die can so easily become the duty to die.

“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 they have voted to do today.”

The controversial legislation would have made Scotland the first part of the UK to legalise assisted suicide if it had been successful.

It proposed granting any person above 16 who was terminally ill and found life intolerable the right to ask for assistance in ending their lives.

Ms MacDonald, who has Parkinson’s disease, vowed to resume her campaign if she was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament.

She said: “Parliament’s will must be respected, but Parliament’s will can change. If I stand next time, and if I’m elected, people will know without a doubt that I’m going to pursue the idea and I’ll surely be able to say that there’s some sort of mandate implicit in that.”

Care Not Killing defended itself against Ms MacDonald's assertion that their campaign against the Bill was "cheap and unworthy" and that their claims of the potential harm to society were not backed up with proof.

Mr Macdonald said her criticism was unfounded and that their position was supported by a committee set up to examine the Bill, which recently recommended that the legislation be dropped.

He conceded, however, that in spite of the huge margin of yesterday's defeat, the issue may not be completely laid to rest if Ms MacDonald is re-elected.

He said Care Not Killing would make every effort to get as much information out about the implications of legalising assisted suicide and the importance of palliative care ahead of the next elections to the Scottish Parliament.

"We fully expect that the pro-euthanasia lobby is not going to give up," he said.

"They're going to keep coming back so we have to be constantly vigilant against that."