Right to die: Scottish Parliament rejects attempt to legalise assisted suicide

After an emotional debate, MSPs voted by 36 to 82 against the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill

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Indy Politics

The Scottish Parliament rejected an attempt to legalise assisted suicide following a vote in Holyrood.

A bill had proposed that those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses should be able to obtain help to end their suffering. But after an emotional debate, MSPs voted by 36 to 82 against the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who championed the bill, told politicians that the current law was both “inadequate” and “unclear.” He pointed out that a lack of guidance meant people wanting to help those with terminal illness end their life usually had no idea what actions might result in prosecution.

“Under the current law, any such circumstance leaves a person asking for or offering such assistance subject to the possibility that they would be prosecuted for murder or for culpable homicide,” he told members, adding: “I think the case for a change in the law is very strong.”

MSPs were allowed a free vote “according to their conscience”, rather than on party lines.

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison told MSPs she would not be backing the bill. “The Government believes that the current law is clear, and it is not lawful to assist someone to commit suicide, and the Government has no plans to change that,” she said.

Mr Harvie took on the legislation following the death of independent MSP Margo MacDonald in April last year. She proposed the legislation to allow those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to receive help to end their suffering.

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