Important inquiry into assisted dying is launched

As a Bill seeking to reform the law on assisted dying in Scotland falls in the Scottish Parliament, a new Commission on Assisted Dying was launched in London. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has said that the defeated Bill provided ‘invaluable’ opportunities, and has welcomed a formal inquiry into the issue of assisted dying.

Whether to legalise assisted dying is a devolved matter, meaning that if the law were to change in Scotland, that would not mean legal change to the rest of the UK.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips said, ‘Although it is disappointing that the Scottish Parliament has voted against a reform in the law on assisted dying, the defeat was not wholly unexpected at this stage. The process, however, of Margo MacDonald’s Bill provided excellent and invaluable opportunities to scrutinise the ethical and legal bases for a future change to the law, as well as to show the wide public support for a Bill on End of Life Assistance to be debated in the Parliament.’

Ms Phillips continued, ‘Earlier this year the BHA joined calls for an independent inquiry into assisted dying, to examine the evidence relating to a change in the law, to help towards evidence-based policy making on this sensitive issue. We very much welcome the launch of a new Commission and inquiry into assisted dying and look forward to contributing to its work over the coming months.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Naomi Phillips 020 7079 3585.

Read more about our work on assisted dying.

More information about the Commission on Assisted Dying.

Read the BHA’s memorandum to the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Committee which scrutinised the Bill.

Read the BHA’s February 2010 briefing to Peers for a debate on an independent inquiry.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK.