News In Focus
MacDonald has another attempt at Assisted Suicide Bill
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald has launched a second bill to permit assisted suicide in Scotland.
The member for Lothian, who suffers from Parkinson's disease herself, saw a previous bill defeated on 2010. Her new measure is more limited in scope and contains additional safeguards which she hopes will counter the argument that vulnerable individuals could be pressurised into ending their lives.
The qualifying conditions are that the individual has concluded that their quality of life is unacceptable due to an illness or progressive condition that is terminal or life shortening, and sees no prospect of improvement in their quality of life.
Under the bill, assisted suicide will attract no civil or criminal liability if the person in question, who must be 16 or over, has made a preliminary declaration followed by two requests for assistance, all as prescribed in the bill, each request being endorsed by two medical practitioners. The act of suicide must take place within 14 days of the second request.
Whereas the previous bill allowed a doctor to administer the lethal drugs, the new bill will require the individual to administer it to themselves in the presence of a "licensed facilitator" – the cause of death "must be that person's own deliberate act" and the bill expresly prohibits anything that would constitute euthanasia.
The rules for licensing of the facilitators are to be set by Scottish ministers. Family members, anyone who would benefit from the person's will, and those who have previously provided treatment or care during the person's illness would be excluded from acting.
Click here to access the bill and related documents.