As the Church opposed the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill which was rejected the day before yesterday in a free vote by the Scottish Parliament, I am pleased with the outcome of the debate. Our MSPs voted freely according to their conscience and their conscience dictated that the procedure to end life contained in the proposed legislation was not the way forward. Their vote reflected the views of medical practitioners, people with disabilities as well as other ordinary folk who campaigned arduously through their churches or voluntary organisations to let their voices be heard. The Bill was thoroughly examined with over 50 people giving evidence and contributing to a lively and informed debate. This was much to the credit of Margo MacDonald.
Although the Bill has been defeated, the examination of the issues around the end of life has only just begun. There is a need for us as a society to examine issues surrounding the meaning of “quality of life” particularly when physical pain and progressive illness occurs. We need to examine our own expectations surrounding the intrinsic value of human life; we also need to confront our frailty and our mortality. I shall be exploring some of these items in the upcoming edition of the Sunday Express. Those who supported Margo’s Bill need to know that their concerns have not been taken lightly.
As a society, we need to address the availability of resources to support the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of those reaching the end of their lives with dignity.
The Bill was defeated. Let the wider debate begin.