Report scrutinising assisted suicide proposals published

30.04.2015

A parliamentary report scrutinising proposals to legalise assisted suicide has been published today by the Health and Sport Committee.

Deputy Convener of the Committee, Bob Doris MSP said: 

“First of all, the Committee wants to acknowledge the positive intentions of Patrick Harvie MSP in bringing this legislation forward.  

“Whilst we recognised the complex moral and legal issues that arose during our detailed scrutiny, it was important that we listened, debated and heard the many passionate voices on both sides of the debate.

“The Committee has recognised throughout its work that the proposed legislation touches lives in a deeply personal way and we thank those individuals for sharing their personal experience. 

“The Committee’s intention was to inform the debate and not influence the outcome as that is a matter of conscience for the Parliament when they vote later this month.  

“However, the Committee agreed that the Bill will need significant amendment should it progress through the parliamentary scrutiny process.” 

In its stage one report on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill, the Committee has reached the following overall conclusions:

  • The Committee notes the good intentions of the Member in Charge of the Bill and recognises the complexity of the various moral and ethical issues that consideration of this Bill presents.
  • The Committee recognises the strength of feeling expressed by those who have given evidence both in support of and in opposition to the general principles of the Bill. The Committee recommends that the Parliament approach the Stage 1 decision with due respect for this diversity of views.
  • The Committee believes the Bill contains significant flaws. These present major challenges as to whether the Bill can be progressed. Whilst the majority of the Committee does not support the general principles of the Bill, given that the issue of assisted suicide is a matter of conscience, the Committee has chosen to make no formal recommendation to the Parliament on the Bill.

The Committee’s report includes evidence and analysis on the following issues: assisted suicide and the existing law; compassion and the need to respond to the suffering of others; respect for autonomy; assisted suicide and other end of life practices in health-care; key terms not defined in the bill, mental capacity, the role of health care professionals, protection of conscience, the role of the licensed facilitator and suicide prevention strategy.  

Background

The written views of over 800 individuals and organisations contributed to the Committee’s report. Over 30 individuals and organisations also gave oral evidence over the course of the Committee’s scrutiny of this issue.   

Now that the Health and Sport Committee has reported on the Bill, the full Parliament will debate the general principles of the Bill in light of the Committee’s report. The Parliament will decide whether to agree to the general principles of the Bill. The debate on the Bill should take place before the Stage 1 deadline of 29 May.   

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