Committee not convinced by End of Life Assistance Bill


The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill Committee has not been persuaded there is a case to decriminalise homicide as it applies to assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

The Committee’s Stage 1 report published today - based on substantial written and oral evidence - does not, therefore, recommend the general principles of the Bill to the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald MSP in January and will now be debated and voted on in the Chamber on Wednesday 1 December [postponed from 25 November].

Ross Finnie MSP, Committee Convener, said:

“In the last few months, we have taken evidence on the Bill’s proposals from a wide range of organisations – including medical practitioners, palliative care charities, religious groups and legal experts – based in the UK and overseas. Following detailed discussions on the evidence, we’ve concluded that there are several flaws in the Bill.

“Fundamentally, the committee wrestled with the Bill’s premise that it would help maintain an individual’s dignity and autonomy as they move towards the end of their life.”

The report concluded:

  • Making a case for the Bill on the grounds of “dignity” is problematic, as different interpretations of what it means to die “with dignity” are impossible to reconcile;
  • The argument for the Bill on the grounds of individual “autonomy” was not accepted by all members of the committee. There was a strong view that individual choice has to be considered within the context of society as a whole;
  • It would have been clearer for “assisted suicide” and “voluntary euthanasia” to have been dealt with as separate provisions in the Bill rather than combining them under one definition.

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