A Bill proposing to introduce assisted suicide in Scotland has been defeated at Holyrood by 82 votes to 36.
The Bill, which was taken over by Patrick Harvey, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) following the death of proponent Margo McDonald, had its first stage reading in the Scottish Parliament in May. Under the proposed legislation, people over the age of 16 with terminal or life-shortening illnesses would have been allowed to end their lives with the assistance of another person, known as a licensed facilitator.
Many MSPs had voiced strong opposition to the Bill before the debate, while several campaign groups had lobbied hard to prevent the Bill from being passed.
Campaign group ‘Care Not Killing’ had presented a petition of 15,300 people who opposed a weakening of Scotland’s end of life laws.
Speaking after the vote, Dr Gordon Macdonald, convenor of Care Not Killing in Scotland, said, ‘It is right that the law is not to be changed to accommodate the wishes of a small number of desperate and determined people at the expense of the rights of others.
‘Vulnerable people who are sick, elderly or disabled can so easily feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others. Parliament’s first responsibility is to protect the vulnerable, and that is what has happened’.
Before the vote, several groups, such as the Law Society of Scotland had voiced concern about the lack of safeguards in the Bill.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said, ‘Human life should be protected from the moment of conception until the point of natural death. This Bill undermined the sanctity of life and sent out the profoundly misleading message that the lives of the sick and elderly are not worth living.
‘Legal and medical experts consistently warned that the proposed Bill was deeply flawed and would be difficult to enforce in practice. We thank God that the Scottish Parliament rejected this dangerous legislation and voted in favour of protecting the lives of thousands of vulnerable people’.