80 Scots a year would use assisted suicide says MSP

Mr Harvie says the public mood is behind the change and Scots don't want to see people prosecuted for helping a terminally ill person end their suffering. Picture: PA

Mr Harvie says the public mood is behind the change and Scots don't want to see people prosecuted for helping a terminally ill person end their suffering. Picture: PA

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ABOUT 80 terminally ill Scots are expected to take their own lives every year if assisted suicide is legalised, according to the MSP behind the proposal.

But Green party co-leader Patrick Harvie says about 50 dying Scots a year are already taking their own lives and may be subject of coercion from friends or family members.

Mr Harvie says the public mood is behind the change and Scots don’t want to see people prosecuted for helping a terminally ill person end their suffering.

The change will allow Scots who are dying and find their quality of life “unacceptable” to request a lethal cocktail of drugs from a pharmacist to end their own lives.

Assisted suicide is an assault on dignity

The take-up level in Scotland is likely to be “relatively low” based on other parts of the world which have adopted the change, he said.

“The projection in the accompanying documents that were produced by Margo MacDonald on the bill’s introduction suggest something in the region of 80 per year,” Mr Harvie told Holyrood’s health committee.

“We can’t be crystal ball gazers on a matter like that, it’s pretty clear that’s comparable with the take up in other jurisdictions. It remains a very low proportion of overall deaths.”

But Mr Harvie urged MSPs not to focus too heavily on the numbers of uptake. “If we believe in the basic principle of empowering individuals to take decisions about their own lives, then we shouldn’t be in a position of telling them they’ve made the wrong choice,” he said.

Four-fifths of Scots back state assisted suicide

But he added that many stricken Scots are already resorting to making their own arrangements for suicide away from the authorities. “Statistics show there are probably somewhere in the region of 50 suicides of terminally people a year at present,” he said.

“That’s a matter which should concern and distress us all.”

MSPs on Holyrood’s health committee will now decide whether to back the general principles of bill, before Parliament votes on allowing it to proceed.

Supporters of the legislation held a rally outside the Scottish Parliament yesterday before Mr Harvie’s appearance.

A new poll published by campaign group My Life, My Death, My Choice found that 28 per cent of people would be more likely to vote for their MSP if they back the bill, with 8 per cent less likely.

Bob Scott, spokesman for My Life, My Death, My Choice, said the poll demonstrated “incredible public support” for the legislation.

He said: “The Scottish electorate are clearly willing to back this bill with their voices as well as their actions at the ballot box.”

But Dr Gordon Macdonald, parliamentary officer with the Care for Scotland Christian charity, called on Mr Harvie to withdraw the “poorly written, badly constructed” bill.

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