'Case not made' for changing law on assisted suicide
THE case has not been made for changing the law on assisted suicide, a Holyrood committee said today.
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald (pictured) wants Scotland to be the first part of the UK to legislate to allow this.
The veteran politician, who herself has Parkinson's disease, is trying to get a Member's Bill through the Scottish Parliament in order to change the law.
However the Holyrood committee that has been scrutinising her proposals said they were "not persuaded the case had been made" for such a move.
Members of the committee added they were not able to recommend that Parliament backs the general principles of Ms MacDonald's Bill when it comes before MSPs for a crucial vote next week.
The End of Life Assistance Bill stipulates that anyone aged over 16 can request help to die. The person must be diagnosed as terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated, and find life intolerable.
But it has split opinion and a campaign entitled Care Not Killing has been launched opposing it.
Today the committee of MSPs who examined the proposals published their report on the Bill.
They said: "Overall, the majority of the committee was not persuaded that the case had been made to decriminalise the law of homicide as it applies to assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, termed 'end-of-life assistance' in the Bill."
Committee convener Ross Finnie said members had taken evidence on the proposals from a wide range of organisations, but added that after "detailed discussions" they had concluded that "there are several flaws in the Bill".
He added: "Fundamentally, the committee wrestled with the Bill's premise that it would help maintain an individual's dignity and autonomy as they move towards the end of their life."
Ms MacDonald, a Lothians MSP, however claimed that most MSPs on the committee had a "known hostility" to the basic principle of her proposals.
And she said: "The criticism made by these MSPs of the Bill's provisions should be evaluated in this context."
She continued: "As the debate has become better known to the public, MSPs have told me of constituents who have asked them to support the Bill so that it is not killed off before being further scrutinised and perhaps amended."
Ms MacDonald also said that the faith based opposition to her proposals had been "well-organised and well-funded" but she added: "Public opinion continues to support the general principles of the Bill."
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