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Church plans to challenge assisted dying law in court

22 January 2010

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has said it will challenge in the courts any legislation to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

The church yesterday said that the End of Life Assistance Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament by MSP Margo MacDonald "would cross a moral boundary that no society should ever breach".

Holyrood has no power to pass a law that would infringe the Human Rights Act, but the Parliament's legal team has judged that the bill can be certified by Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson as within its legislative competency.

However the church said the European Convention on Human Rights recognised the right to life as inalienable and it was "extremely concerning" that the bill had ben judged competent.

Mrs MacDonald said she had had help from the parliamentary members' bills unit in drafting her measure and she was confident that it could be properly passed. She commented that it was appalling that people currently had to travel to a foreign country if they wanted help to die, and her bill was intended to give them "the autonomy to exercise some control over how they die, to give them the legal right to seek assistance and to protect the people that give assistance".

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