First step towards assisted dying bill in Scotland welcomed

An independent Member of the Scottish Parliament has taken the first step towards introducing a bill legalising assisted suicide in Scotland, a move welcomed by the British Humanist Association (BHA) as ‘Progress in the campaign for a compassionate law that respects the rights of the individual whilst protecting the vulnerable’.

Margo MacDonald, an independent MSP for the Lothian region, has reportedly submitted a consultation document for a proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill. In 2010, Ms McDonald sponsored the End of Life Assistance Bill, which would have permitted people suffering intolerably from a degenerative condition or terminal illness to seek assistance from a doctor to end their life. This Bill was heavily attacked by religious groups in Scotland, and was subsequently defeated in a parliamentary vote in December 2010.

Commenting on the reports, BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips said: ‘Ideally we would see reform of the law throughout the UK, however, we strongly support any progress towards a system whereby the wishes and autonomy of terminally ill or otherwise incurably suffering individuals is respected, and last year made a submission in support of Margo Macdonald’s original Bill.

‘It is so important that individuals’ right to die with dignity in a manner of their own choosing is clearly affirmed in legislation, and we would like assisted dying, with strict legal and medical safeguards, legalised throughout the UK.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Naomi Phillips on 07540 257101.

Read more about the BHA’s work on assisted dying

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.