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Scottish politician claims assisted suicide bill doesn’t legalize assisted suicide

by | Jun 23, 2021

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On Monday I reported that Scotland will once again debate an “assisted dying” bill. I used the term “assisted dying” to reflect the terminology used by the media.

To my surprise, the Edinburgh news published an article today by Alex Cole-Hamilton who is a Liberal Democrat Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) claiming that Scotland’s assisted suicide bill doesn’t legalize assisted suicide.

Cole-Hamilton is a supporter of the assisted suicide bill sponsored by Liam McArthur MSP who is also a Liberal Democrat.

Cole-Hamilton states in his article:

This isn’t assisted suicide, it won’t be available to people who want to die because they are depressed. To access it patients will require a terminal diagnosis, they will need to have full mental capacity and be assessed as competent by clinicians who are satisfied they aren’t being coerced by others.

The Oxford language dictionary defines assisted suicide as:

the suicide of a patient suffering from an incurable disease, effected by the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for this purpose.

If you don’t like the Oxford language dictionary, Wikipedia defines assisted suicide this way:

The term usually refers to physician-assisted suicide (PAS), which is suicide that is assisted by a physician or other healthcare provider. Once it is determined that the person’s situation qualifies under the physician-assisted suicide laws for that place, the physician’s assistance is usually limited to writing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs.

Cole-Hamilton is trying to change the language of the debate so that it mirrors what polls best. Polls show that there is a more favorable response to the question of whether or not a person supports assisted dying as compared to assisted suicide. 

In other words, language matters.

On Monday, Andrew Learmonth reported for news that:

Labour’s Pam Duncan Glancy has warned that plans to bring in assisted dying in Scotland would be “dangerous for disabled people.”

Learmonth reported that Duncan Glancy MSP from Glasgow tweeted the following:

“I am deeply worried about this. Disabled people do not yet enjoy our right to live equally. I’d far rather we had a right to live enshrined in law, long before we have a right to die. Until all things are equal, this is dangerous for disabled people.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Clinic Quotes and is reposted with permission.