Assisted suicide bill – license to heal or license to kill?

By Sandra Juncu

The assisted suicide bill is facing new challenges as claims were made that numbers could reach 1,000 deaths in Scotland per year.

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald appeared in front of a Holyrood committee set up to revise her controversial bill that is allowing people suffering from a terminal illness to seek medical help in ending their life. She based her law proposal on the example of the U.S. State of Oregon’s existing regulations and approximated the number of Scottish cases to  55 per year.

The MSP is convinced of the importance of her Bill

Former SNP colleague, Michael Matheson openly criticized her intention by commenting “Your legislation is much closer in parallel to Dutch legislation and using the very same methodology that you’ve used to calculate the figures, the number of people who may exercise their rights under this legislation, if enacted, is closer to 1000 rather than 55. That’s significantly different.”

MacDonald, who suffers from degenerative Parkinson’s condition, has expressed concerns as she is claimming that an “organized campaign” against her has been trying to scrutinize her plans and take attention away from the fact that the law has plenty of safeguards to prevent abuse: “We mean for everyone to understand completely that this is not something to be entered into lightly. If there were more than 100 a year of people who find their lives intolerable and who followed the bill faithfully, I would have no objection to that.”

Although the MSP is confident on a majority of  bill supporters in Scotland, the international situation does not seem as favourable. The Netherlands have published a report saying that the number of assisted deaths and euthanasia cases have risen by 200 last year and different international organisations are expressing concern related to the fact that this legislation will give people the false idea that not every life is worth living.

One of the big opponents of the “Right to die” movement is the Catholic Church, as the Archbishop Rev. Vincent Nichols said: “It seems to imply that if the victim is disabled or terminally ill, then his or her life does not merit the same degree of protection by law. Such an underlying assumption is unacceptable in a civilised and caring society.”