November 2014

Assisted Suicide (S) Bill

The Society gave evidence to the Justice Committee on 28 October.  Alison Britton, convener of the Society’s Health and Medical law committee reiterated the Society’s call for greater clarity and definition if the proposed legislation is to achieve its stated aims.  She said it was imperative for there to be clear definitions of what constitutes assisted suicide and what is meant by the term ‘licensed facilitator’. 

Coral Riddell, head of the Society’s Professional Practice team, spoke on the Society’s concerns around a solicitor being able to act as a proxy to sign the request for assisted suicide for a person who is unable to do so.  Within the context of assisted suicide, and the significant and irreversible nature of the act of ending a life, the Society is of the view that a medical practitioner would be better placed than a solicitor to assess whether or not a person has the necessary capacity to understand the effect of a proxy signature in such a situation. 

The Society was also questioned on the proposed 14 day time limit between the second assisted suicide request and when the act is committed and the consideration to the age limit at which this legislation could apply. 

The full written evidence and the link to the oral evidence session can be found here