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This is because the powers to regulate the Health Professions is reserved to Westminster and not within the powers of the Scottish Parliament We hear very often that doctors are concerned because the current draft of the Bill does not include a “conscience clause” which would allow doctors with moral concerns to refuse to take part in the process. Whilst this is not included on the face of the legislation, had such a provision been included in the Bill it would have been not have received a statement of legislative competency from the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and so could not have been considered.
As a mix of practising and retired doctors from across specialities, we understand the hesitation that can result from new legislation, particularly on a topic as sensitive as end-of-life issues. Nonetheless, we believe these need to be addressed head on. Below we describe some of the particular concerns about the assisted suicide legislation being proposed in Scotland that we have heard specifically from doctors so far and seek to address these.