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Scottish consultation summary published

more: Submissions, Scotland, Submissions/Scotland, Legislation, Submissions/Legislation

12th September 2022

Care Not Killing responds in the media as Liam McArthur prepares to publish his assisted suicide bill “in the near future”

Scottish consultation summary published

Liam McArthur MSP (Orkney Islands, LD) plans to introduce an "Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill", in support of which he ran a public consultation in late 2021 concerning "a proposal for a Bill to enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with assistance to end their life".

The proposal envisages assisted suicide for persons:

  • Aged 16 or over (the age of majority in Scotland)
  • Resident in Scotland for at least 12 months
  • Deemed to be "terminally ill", which McArthur understands to mean "a registered medical practitioner has diagnosed them as having a progressive disease, which can reasonably be expected to cause their death."

On 8 September 2022, almost a year after the consultation first opened, Mr McArthur's office published a summary of responses to the consultation from organisations and individuals. Among individuals, Mr McArthur's office claimed that of 13,957 individual responses, 76% were in favour of his proposal - but this was only after they had discounted 3,352 responses from supporters of Right to Life. The summary concedes that among "professionals" with experience of providing end of life care, there was a near even split of opinion; we can only speculate as to how the removal of thousands of opposing voices from consideration has affected this balance.

Care Not Killing submitted a joint response to the consultation with our colleagues at Our Duty of Care - you can read this in full here. Other organisations responding in opposition to such a bill included Regional Palliative Medicine Group (the representative consultant body of Palliative Medicine consultants across Northern Ireland); the California State branch of American Association of Medical Ethics; the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland; Inclusion Scotland; Not Dead Yet; and Glasgow Disability Alliance.

The Denbighshire Free Press was among outlets carrying a response from our Chief Executive:

But Dr Gordon Macdonald, of the campaign group Care Not Killing, which is spearheading opposition to the Bill, said: "Evidence from other countries shows that when assisted suicide or euthanasia are legalised, the safeguards promised are quickly removed and the law is extended to include more and more vulnerable people.

"People will come under pressure from others to end their lives for fear of being a financial or care burden. People with depression won't get the proper psychiatric support they need and palliative care services will continue to be underfunded.

"This is a very dangerous Bill and the proponents of a change in the law have failed to address these concerns or even to engage in a debate about them.

"We need to care for people who are suffering, not encourage them or provide them with a mechanism to end their lives. This is why we champion the extension of high quality palliative care to all those who need it and better support for their families."

BBC News also carried his remarks, alongside those of Dennis Canavan, who addressed a Care Not Killing event for MSPs earlier this year.

Former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan is supporting Care Not Killing after the death of his four children - three of them after a terminal illness.

"My children undoubtedly underwent some pain but it was minimised by caring health professionals," he said.

"As a result, my children died in dignity and I do not accept that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death."

© Image copyright of Matt Buck and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License

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