A CROSS-SECTION of more than 30 high-ranking individuals from backgrounds including medicine, philosophy, religion and science, have urged MSPs to allow the introduction of state-assisted suicide.
The proposed Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill is currently going through the legislative process at Holyrood and has divided opinion across the country.
Prominent individuals backing the Bill, which is being taken forward by Green MSP Patrick Harvie after initially being introduced by the late Margo MacDonald, include: Bishop Richard Holloway (former Anglican Primus of Scotland); Sir Graeme Catto (former president of General Medical Council); Dr Michael Irwin (former medical director of the United Nations); Professor AC Grayling (philosopher); Dan Snow (broadcaster & author); Shiona Mackie (retired medical director of Primary Care, NHS Lanarkshire) and Melanie Reid (journalist).
Each has written to the Health & Sport Committee urging them to “confront one of the most difficult issues we will all face. Namely, how our lives might come to an end.”
The letter, submitted in advance of a private discussion of the draft Stage 1 report on Tuesday (21 April), points out that the Scottish Parliament rarely has the opportunity to consider broader issues such as end of life options and says it is important that “when the opportunity arises to formally do so, Parliamentary process does not bring such a discourse to a premature end.”
Bob Scott, spokesman for campaign group My Life, My Death, My Choice said: “It is clear there is broad public support for some kind of change in the law regarding how an individual chooses to end their own life when suffering from a terminal or life-shortening condition. To have such intelligent thinkers urging MSPs to, at the very least, ensure the debate continues through Stage 1, demonstrates the broad public support for this proposal.
“Evidence from elsewhere shows that compassionate laws similar to what is being proposed here can operate successfully yet protecting the vulnerable.”
In February more than 10,000 people signed a petition opposing proposals to introduce the controversial legislation.
Dr Gordon Macdonald of the Care Not Killing (CNK) umbrella group which is spearheading the campaign said: “We are delighted with the support we are receiving. The numbers signing our petition are growing every day as more people become aware of the details in the proposed legislation.”
The legislation 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 lives.
Holyrood’s health committee is to soon publish its report on the plans before MSPs vote on whether to approve the change or reject it.