A call for views on the legalisation of assisted suicide has been published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, as the parliamentary scrutiny process begins for the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.
The proposed legislation would provide a means for certain people with a terminal or life-shortening illness to seek assistance to end their lives at a time of their own choosing. It would provide protection against criminal and civil liability for those providing such assistance.
Convener of the Committee, Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“This is an issue that has polarised public opinion and there are clearly strong views on both sides of the debate.
“There is no doubt that legalising assisted suicide would be a monumental change in how we treat people with a terminal illness at the end of their lives and there are a number of moral and ethical issues that need to be explored as part of this debate.
“Given the significance of the proposed legislation, it is even more important that as a parliamentary committee we can take a neutral look at the facts.”
Deputy Convener of the Committee, Bob Doris MSP said:
“Our Committee wants to hear from as wide a range of people as possible – from GPs, pharmacists and the wider medical profession who would have a role in assisting in a person’s suicide to the third sector, police and legal profession.
“We need to scrutinise the detail behind the proposals – how would such a system operate and the role of those professions in the process.
“Hearing from the experts is important, but we also want to hear from a wide a range of individuals who may be affected by the proposed legislation – to use this as a platform for debate as to how people are treated at the end of life.”
The Committee is asking for views on the following:
- Do you agree with the general purpose of the Bill to make it permissible, in the circumstances provided for, to assist another to commit suicide?
- Do you have any views on how the provisions in this Bill compare with those from the previous End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill?
- The Bill precludes any criminal and civil liability for those providing assistance, providing the processes and requirements set out in the Bill have been adhered to. Do you wish to make any comment on this?
- The Bill outlines a three stage declaration and request process that would be required to be followed by an individual seeking assisted suicide. Do you have any comment on the process being proposed?
- Do you have any comment on the provisions requiring that the person seeking assisted suicide must have a terminal or life-shortening illness, or a progressive condition which is either terminal or life-shortening?
- Are you satisfied with the eligibility requirements as regards age, capacity, and connection with Scotland as set out in the Bill?
- Do you have any comment on the roles of medical practitioners and pharmacists as provided for in the Bill?
- Do you have any comment on the means by which a person would be permitted to end his/her life under the Bill?
- Do you have any comment on the role of licensed facilitators a provided for in the Bill?
- Do you have any comment on the role of the police as provided for in the Bill?
To submit evidence to the Committee you can email [email protected] by Friday 6 June.
The Assisted Suicide (Scotland Bill) was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 13 November 2013. The Health and Sport Committee is likely to start taking oral evidence on the bill in November 2014.