Scotland Parliament Strongly Rejects Legislation to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 8, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scotland Parliament Strongly Rejects Legislation to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 8
, 2008

Edinburgh, Scotland ( — The Scottish Parliament, the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, is not receptive to legislation to legalize assisted suicide in that portion of Great Britain. Margo MacDonald, the MSP behind the bill, failed to garner enough support to introduce the measure.

MacDonald is hoping to get a private member’s bill introduced at Holyrood next year but only has the backing of four out of the 129 that comprise the legislative body.

That means she is 14 short of the number needed to get the bill introduced and well short of the level of support necessary to get an assisted suicide bill approved.

MacDonald’s bill appears to be modeled after American laws in Oregon and Washington state that require a waiting period before a terminally ill patient can request a physician to provide a lethal drug prescription.

After realizing she didn’t have enough support to get her measure introduced, she talked with the London Times about why she brought the bill.

"There are lots of people up and down Scotland who would like to make sure that they miss the last – and for them most intolerable – part of life, because of incapacity, loss of dignity, loss of control, insufferable pain perhaps," she said.

Pro-life advocates oppose assisted suicide and say that doctors should not be in the business of killing patients. They say patients should be given more help to cope with pain and depression and better hospice care.

Though a bill to legalize assisted suicide doesn’t appear to be advancing in Scotland, pro-life advocates in England are more concerned.

A new piece of legislation, the Coroners and Justice Bill, which British Parliament officials announced at the start of the parliamentary year, will deal with assisted suicide. The measure, would reportedly modernize the law "to increase public understanding."

What that means, however, is another question.

The bill could make it more clear when people would be charged under the law for aiding in an assisted suicide, as in the case of Debbie Purdy.

John Smeaton, the director of the pro-life group Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, explained some of the concerns on Thursday.

"We are concerned that radical, so-called right-to-die MPs or peers – urged on by media coverage for assertions that some elderly people have a so-called duty to die – might seek to use the bill to weaken the legal protection of the right to life," Smeaton says.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.