October 4, 2022

Scotland and Uruguay: will they legalise euthanasia?

Two more countries are debating whether to legalise euthanasia: Scotland and Uruguay.

In Scotland a Liberal Democrat member of the Scottish Parliament, Liam McArthur, has introduced a bill to permit assisted dying. Previous attempts have failed. In 2014 there was a vigorous debate over another bill put forward by another MSP, Margo MacDonald, although she died before the vote.

“We’ve had two elections [since the last euthanasia bill] so the membership of the parliament is very different,” Mr McArthur told the BBC. “It’s only about a third of the MSPs that were present back in 2015 who are still present now and who had an opportunity to debate and vote on the issue last time round. In that time we’ve seen the political mood within parliament catch up to where the public mood across Scotland has been for some time now.”

In Uruguay the Health Committee of the Lower House has approved a bill approving euthanasia. The body is now to debate the issue in a plenary session, probably in October. The bill was first introduced in 2020, but it languished because of the Covid-19 pandemic.The President, Luis Lacalle Pou, and the Catholic Church are strongly opposed.

Exit International, the euthanasia organisation directed by Dr Philip Nitschke, commented:

“While this proposed law is heavily medicalised, it is progressive in the sense that it includes health conditions that ‘seriously undermine their quality of life’. This could – for all intents and purposes – include advanced old age. The second point of interest is that the Bill discusses end of life choices as a ‘right’. This is a welcome inclusion.”