On November 18, the majority of the members of the all party committee that examined the End of Life Assistance bill suggested that the bill be defeated and stated that: “Overall, the majority was not persuaded the case had been made to decriminalise the law of homicide as it applies to assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, termed ‘end-of-life assistance’ in the Bill.”
The committee Convener, Ross Finnie, said members heard evidence from a wide range of organisations. After detailed discusions they concluded: “there are several flaws in the Bill.”
To pressure Scottish politicians, Margo MacDonald, the sponsor of the euthanasia bill, released the results of a euthanasia poll that was conducted between April 14 – 16, 2010 that indicated that 77% of the respondents supported the concept of euthanasia.
MacDonald expressed elation at the poll numbers but stated with frustration that: “some MSPs have allowed themselves to be unduly influenced by a well organised and orchestrated campaign against the bill by Care Not Killing (CNK).”
CNK policy officer Gordon Macdonald responded by saying: “opinion polls were not a “reliable guide” on the issue because those asked were not giving an informed view but rather an answer “off the top of their heads.”
Macdonald then stated: “there were also problems of definition with the proposed groups who would be eligible – those with ‘terminal illness’ or ‘permanently physically incapacitated to such an extent as not to be able to live independently’.”
When polling on the issue of euthanasia, it is clear that the wording and the way the question is asked will determine the result of the poll. The real question is what do the Scottish people actually want?
A recent Environics research survey in Canada showed that 71% of Canadians wanted the government to focus on improving end-of-life care rather than focusing on legalizing euthanasia. It is likely that the Scottish people have similar concerns.
The MacDonald euthanasia bill is now scheduled to go to a vote in the Scottish parliament on December 1, 2010. The vote was scheduled to happen yesterday, (November 25) but was moved back to debate the income tax provisions.
On January 21, 2010; I published an analysis of the Scottish – End-of-Life Assistance Bill where I concluded:
Margo MacDonald’s – End of Life Assistance Bill would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Scotland. The bill essentially grants a “blank cheque to kill” people with disabilities, chronic conditions or terminally ill.
MacDonald has attempted to create the appearance of strict safeguards. She appears to have wanted her bill to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for a large group of people, including herself, yet she knew that the bill needed an illusion of protection for vulnerable persons.
The fact is that people with disabilities and those who live with chronic conditions need to strongly respond to this bill because it directly focuses on eliminating their lives.