WEST Dunbartonshire councillors agreed not to put forward an official view on the controversial issue of assisted dying.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, May 29, councillors were asked to agree a motion put forward by Bailie Denis Agnew stating that the move to legalise assisted dying is “unacceptable in our society.”

But instead, the elected officials supported an amendment from council leader Jonathan McColl that stated: “The issue of assisted dying is an extremely complex medical, social and moral issue.

“We have not been asked by the Scottish Parliament for a view and there are no current discussions at any level within the parliament on assisted dying.

“Council agrees that it would not be appropriate for this meeting to set a council position on assisted dying and recognises and respects that there will be a widea range of views among our 22 elected members.”

A total of 14 councillors voted for the amendment, while six voted for the motion after a long-lasting debate.

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Speaking at the meeting, Bailie Agnew said: “I understand that this motion is emotive, and people have diverse opinions and I appreciate that, however I believe we as a council have a political view on this.”

He listed a number of charities and organisations including CHAS, St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, Alzheimer’s Scotland, The World Health Organisation and the reasons why they are all strongly opposed to assisted dying.

Councillor Jonathon McColl stated that these were given in response to a previous Bill that was rejected by the Scottish Parliament “some years ago.”

He said: “I make no secret of the fact that I am personally in favour of assisted dying and I hope that this is an issue that can once again be debated in the Scottish Parliament.

“Personally, I find it illogical, inexplicable and inhumane that a society that spares our pets and working animals from suffering does not believe that fellow human beings should be afforded the same level of compassion.”

A large number of other councillors put forward their views on the issue.

Councillor Douglas McAllister said: “I am in support of Bailie Agnew’s motion. It preserves the sanctity of life from the inception to natural end. Instead as a council we should be encouraging and supporting additional funding to organisations such as our very own St Margaret of Scotland Hospice and CHAS.”

“I have witnessed the work of the hospice and seen first-hand how life at the very end is dignified and that is the model I would encourage my council and Scotland to adopt, and not support any move to euthanasia. It is a very personal view; I understand why some of you opposed to it would often say until you’ve experienced your loved one going through a very difficult time then perhaps your view would change.

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“But I have, my mother-in-law was tragically diagnosed with MND at a very young age and she suffered for two years during that. But we regarded it as great privilege to be with her and be with her till the end.”

Councillor Ian Dickson said: “Assisted dying, I am in favour of it. My research into this since the motion came on sees anything from 84 to 93 per cent in favour of assisted dying. When the local papers published the story that this issue was going to be discussed today, and just a quick skim of the comments, I would say about 80 per cent were in favour.

“It has been legal for terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have an assisted death since 1997 in Oregon, US. There have been no cases of abuse and the law has not been extended beyond terminally ill adults, it’s never changed.

“The assisted dying law in Oregon works. It prevents unnecessary suffering at the end of life, and it provides dying adults with a choice of control over their own death. It is only available to dying people and has remained so since inception. It has been responsibly implemented with none of the predicted dire consequences.”