Fresh Scots bid to legalise Assisted Suicide

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie is among the MSPs who back assisted suicide
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie is among the MSPs who back assisted suicide
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A new Holyrood inquiry into the prospect of Assisted Suicide being introduced in Scotland should be established to allow the issue to be "truly explored", MSPs have been told.

Many terminally ill Scots endure "endless pain and suffering" at the in their final days, campaigners said today, with many driven to suicide to end their ordeal.

Ally Thomson, Director, Dying in Dignity told Holyrood's Human Rights Committee that MSPs must revisit the issue with 77% of Scots backing the change.

"This Parliament can take action, it's empowered to take action and we believe very strongly that it should," she said.

The Scottish Parliament has twice rejected proposed laws in recent years which would have sees Assisted Suicide introduced.

Read more: Assisted suicide bill rejected at Holyrood
The Australian state of Victoria has recently introduced a "safeguarded Bill", Ms Thomson said, which empowers dying people at the end of their life, while providing protection for vulnerable groups in society.

There have been concerns that legalising suicide may prompt people to take their own lives during bouts of depression or if older people feel they have become a burden on their family.

"I would support a wider inquiry into full end of life rights, including the right to palliative care and treatment," Ms Thomson added.

"We fully believe in assistance to live, as well as, when necessary, when there is no other option, when death is inevitable, assistance to die."

Read more: In the end we all want a good death
The Catholic Church and disability campaigners both voiced concerns over the prospect of Assisted Dying proposals making a return.

Bill Scott of Inclusion Scotland told MSPs that previous Assisted Dying Bills at Holyrood would have included disabled people with a non-terminal conditions and those living in pain.

"I would much rather this Parliament talk about how we uphold the right to life," he said.

Anthony Horan, Director, Catholic Parliamentary Office of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland said the law cannot be "neutral" on the issue.

"It either regards death as a therapy or it upholds the sacredness of all life," he said.

He cited reports of people being "euthanised" for addiction to alcohol, as well as concerns of people being a burden on their family or even coercion.

He added; "Rather then condemn people to unnecessary suffering we ought to enhance the care for the dying."

But Gordon Macrae of the Humanist Society in Scotland said the body backed Assisted Suicide and suggested the previous Bills would have benefited from a broader inquiry into the issue.

"There is evidence out there which, I think, compiled in a committee inquiry, would be a very powerful way to allow the arguments to be truly explored and maybe take some of the heart out of what can be a very contentious debate."