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Dignity in Dying responds to The End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald introduced the End of Life
Assistance (Scotland)
Bill in the Scottish Parliament on 20 January 2010. Consultation on the Bill
ended on 12 May.

The Bills sets out a system which would permit assistance to be
given by registered medical practitioners in Scotland to persons suffering from a
progressive condition, permanent physical incapacitation or terminal illness who
wish to bring their own lives to an end. The Bill also sets out the process by
which a person qualifies to receive an assisted death, and the responsibilities
and duties of the medical professionals involved in the process.

Sarah Wootton,
Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:

“We welcome the efforts to prevent needless suffering
and to prevent people from taking desperate measures in order to have choice at
the end of life. We agree
with many aspects of the Bill such as ensuring that people making requests do
so voluntarily and have mental capacity to decide when life has become
intolerable. However, the proposed Bill goes beyond
what Dignity in Dying believes to be a safeguarded assisted death.

“Dignity in Dying campaigns for terminally ill,
mentally competent adults over 18 years of age to have the choice of assisted
dying, whereas the Bill proposes that
person aged over 16 with a progressive condition or permanent physical
incapacitation as well as those with a terminal illness be allowed assistance
to die. The Bill also appears to offer no definition of what the final act will
be. This said, the Bill provides an important opportunity for a much-needed debate on
greater choice and control at the end of life in Scotland.”

Dignity in Dying have submitted a full response to the
Bill which can be downloaded here