Scotland Parliament Will Soon Debate MacDonald’s Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 29, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scotland Parliament Will Soon Debate MacDonald’s Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 29
, 2009

Edinburgh, Scotland (LifeNews.com) — The parliament in Scotland will soon debate a bill that would legalize assisted suicide as its sponsor, MSP Margo MacDonald, has secured enough support from colleagues to introduce the measure. MacDonald was guaranteed a debate on her measure as 21 MSPs indicated their support.

Despite the upcoming vote, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish health minister, is opposed to the assisted suicide bill and worries that it will be abused to target the elderly and disabled.

The British Medical Association has joined pro-life groups and disability rights advocates in opposing the bill.

“The BMA would be very disappointed if we ended up with having legalized physician-assisted suicide in Scotland," Dr. George Fernie of the BMA said. “People when they have a debilitating illness that may end their life are extremely vulnerable, they’re at a fragile stage. And our worry is they’re going to contemplate ending their life when that really isn’t their wish.”

This month, the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics panned the bill, calling it "dangerous and unnecessary."

The panel believes the bill would turn disabled and terminally ill people into second class citizens.

The council said assisted dying was unnecessary because physical suffering can be adequately alleviated in all but the most rare cases.

Director of research Dr Callum MacKellar said: "When dying patients realize that they do not need to suffer, they often change their minds about euthanasia."

The council also said assisted suicide was "dangerous" because it would change views on death and disability and mean Scottish society accepted – for the first time – that some lives were no longer worth living.

"People who are difficult or costly to care for may begin to be seen as burdens to society or second-class citizens," Dr MacKellar added. "In addition, it would fundamentally change the role of doctors and other health care professionals, whose role has always been to cure and care for patients, not to kill them."

Under the bill, any doctor asked by a patient for drugs to kill himself would consult with a specialist beforehand and then must provide the patient’s records to a medical panel after the patient is dead.

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