A brief recap

In 2005 Jeremy Purvis MSP sought to introduce a Bill to the Scottish Parliament which would have allowed doctors to assist their patients to commit suicide. He launched a consultation which attracted a considerable degree of media interest and a high number of responses. Despite the media interest, Jeremy Purvis was only able to attract the support of six other MSPs for his proposal. As he failed to get the support of eighteen MSPs as required by the Scottish Parliament's rules for his Bill to proceed, his proposal was dropped.

A new debate

In April this year Jeremy Purvis raised the issue of assisted suicide again. He tabled a motion for debate calling for the legalisation of assisted suicide. His motion attracted the support of only one other MSP. However as that MSP was from a different political party, the motion was considered as having cross-party support and was accepted for debate.

Margo MacDonald

During the debate Margo MacDonald MSP (who suffers from Parkinson's disease) announced that she whished to have the option of assisted suicide. Since then Margo has become the leading advocate for the legalisation of assisted suicide in the media. She conducted a fact-finding trip to Dignitas in Zurich and made a documentary in collaboration with the BBC on the issue. It has been suggested that Margo will seek to table a Bill in the Scottish Parliament to legalise assisted suicide.

Owing to Margo's intervention, most of the media coverage on the issue has been one-sided and very emotive. There have been few opportunities for the counter-argument to be presented or even for an objective consideration of the issue to be discussed.

Legislative process

The Scottish Parliament has no second chamber to revise proposed legislation. The legislative process consists of three stages. Stage 1 involves consideration of the principles of the Bill by a Committee of the Parliament and a debate on the principles of the Bill by the whole Parliament. Stage 2 consists of consideration of detailed amendments by the relevant Committee. Stage 3 consists of a final debate on the amended Bill by the Scottish Parliament. The support of only 65 MSPs is required for a Bill legalising assisted suicide to become law in Scotland.

Although during the debate in April most of the MSPs who spoke opposed the legalisation of assisted suicide, there remains a real danger of assisted suicide being legalised within Scotland. Scotland could then become a Trojan horse for the pro-euthanasia lobby to achieve their desired aim of assisted suicide and ultimately full euthanasia throughout the UK.

Get involved

Care Not Killing Scotland is working to oppose any attempt to legalise assisted suicide and/or euthanasia in the Scottish Parliament. Already we have had the opportunity to debate with Margo Macdonald on the radio. There are many ways to help us defeat this latest attempt to introduce assisted suicide within the UK:

Care Not Killing