Friday, 3 December 2010

widening the debate on end of life issues

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.


  1. Personally I'm disappointed the bill failed. There should be an option for people to choose to end their lives - their own lives, not those of others. There should be a ceremony to mark their passing so that they can have some control and dignity in their death. I have worked in a ward where people were dying and for some, the choice would have been a blessing. They might not have chosen to do so, but the knowledge that the option was available could have been a blessing. People of faith would seldom choose, but for people of faith to impose their personal beliefs on others is fundamentally wrong, in my opinion. I thought the bill was well thought through; there were ample safeguards built in; no doctors would have been forced to help if they didn't want to and it was a well-defined personal choice. It's a shame that choice has been taken away from those who perhaps do not believe in any sort of merciful God as they die slowly, painfully and in fear of the next spasm. Pain relief is NOT always the answer. Someone dying in respirtory distress cannot be helped by pain relief.

  2. "Those who supported Margo’s Bill need to know that their concerns have not been taken lightly" -- really? They've been silenced in the Kirk's publications, they've only selectively been asked to give evidence by the (biased) Holyrood committee, they've been told by the church that their opinion was 'a sin', Church & Society explained that their faith was not compatible to Christian faith. I'm sorry, words like 'selective hearing' or even 'hypocrisy' come to mind. Widening the debate? If a one-sided pro-life lobby is a synonym for 'debate'...


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