A disabled MSP has helped persuade colleagues to throw out proposals to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.Labour’s Siobhan McMahon (pictured) told the Scottish parliament that discussions about the assisted suicide (Scotland) bill had added to the demonisation of disabled people.She told fellow MSPs: “It is not a medical condition that makes disabled people’s lives intolerable; it is the lack of social care health services, accessible housing, transport and well-funded welfare benefits.”She said the bill “reinforces the stereotype that disabled people are a burden and do not contribute to society”, a stereotype that “could not be further from the truth and must not be given validity today, tomorrow or at any time in the future”.MSPs were discussing whether to approve the “general principles” of the bill, which had been brought forward by the Green MSP Patrick Harvie, following the death last year of Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who herself had a long-term health condition and introduced the bill in November 2013.But Harvie’s bill was defeated by 82 votes to 36, after yesterday’s (Wednesday) stage one debate.McMahon, whose own impairment is “life-shortening”, had earlier told MSPs: “I believe that, if passed, the bill would reinforce the concept that my life and those of others with life-shortening conditions are not worth living and are not of the same value as those without those conditions.“That is a societal perception that I have come across throughout my life and it is one that I am constantly challenging.”She pointed out that not a single disability organisation supported assisted suicide.And she highlighted a Scope survey that found two-thirds of those surveyed believed disabled people were often seen as “a burden on society”, while three-quarters of young disabled people had experienced someone “explicitly making negative assumptions or comments about their quality of life in relation to their disability”.McMahon said: “We have only to consider the attitudes that disabled people have faced as a result of the welfare reforms that are currently taking place and the role that the media has played in demonising that section of our society to see that this feeling has merit.“I strongly believe that the proposals that we are discussing today add to that view.”MSPs were also reminded of the comments of Dr Sally Witcher, chief executive of Inclusion Scotland and former deputy director of the UK government’s Office for Disability Issues, who told the committee tasked with scrutinising the bill that much of the support for such legislation was “driven by a profound fear of becoming disabled, ageing and becoming ill”.Rather than making it easier for such people to be able to end their lives, she had said, it was vital to “challenge those negative attitudes and have public policy that ensures that, when people are old, ill or disabled, they get the best quality of life possible, and that the right sort of support is available to enable full and independent living as equal citizens for as long as possible”.Harvie said that his bill would send “a clear signal that society is moving away from a paternalistic approach to care at the end of life towards one that empowers people to make their own informed decisions and which respects people on those terms”.Labour MSP Mary Fee said she supported his bill, and added: “Even with the greatest palliative care, an illness can still make life insufferable for some.“Legislating for assisted suicide is a matter of not only choice and dignity for those wishing to use the powers, but equality.“Exercising the power to ask a doctor for the option to seek assistance to end suffering, where medicine and care cannot, places an enormous level of trust with the practitioner and would give the recipient control of their own destiny.”But Shona Robison, the SNP health secretary, said the Scottish government believed that the current law was “clear”, and that it was “not lawful to assist someone in committing suicide”, and had “no plans to change that”.She said she had decided to vote against the bill – ministers had a free vote, as did all other MSPs – because she shared the committee’s concerns about “insufficient safeguards, unresolved issues about timescales, public safety concerns and inadequate provisions regarding the role of licensed facilitators”.And she said she feared that the bill might “result in individuals facing the prospect of additional fears through a change in societal attitudes, including the real prospect of pressure to end their lives”.The Conservative MSP Nanette Milne, a former anaesthetist and cancer researcher, said the idea of “actively and deliberately hastening death by assisting someone to die” was “deeply disturbing”, and that legalising assisted suicide would “risk undermining patient trust in doctors and medical advice”.And the Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said the bill “utterly fails to address the very real risk that, in vulnerable people’s minds, the right to die will become a duty to die”.She added: “If we value the principles of equality and community, as well as that of autonomy, it seems to me that the state must not sanction assisted suicide.”Meanwhile, attempts by Labour’s shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer to reintroduce his own private members’ bill legalising assisted suicide into the House of Lords have suffered a setback.He came 21st in a ballot to decide which peers will be given priority in progressing their bills in the current session of parliament.
ENGLAND Rugby League have appointed St Helens assistant Kieron Purtill as head coach of the England Knights side who will play two international fixtures this Autumn.The Knights programme is the bridge between the senior side and the Academy level and Purtill will take charge of the squad when they take on France and Samoa in October. He will have his first contact with the squad next week when they go into their third training camp of the season, but Purtill’s first task will be to welcome a trio of new players into the Knights set-up.England coach Steve McNamara has drafted Hull FC’s Danny Houghton and St Helens winger Jamie Foster into the Knights squad and they will be joined by Hull KR’s Liam Watts, who comes down from the Elite Training Squad.Castleford Tigers player John Walker, St Helens half-back Johnny Lomax and Warrington Wolves centre Ryan Atkins have all been taken out of the Knights programme to make way for the incoming trio.“Kieron’s a young and ambitious coach,” said McNamara, who will also announce a revised ETS squad later this month. “He’s a very experienced assistant coach and he has high aspirations. He’s very highly regarded by the players and staff at the clubs he’s coached at and we’re really looking forward to getting him on board to lead the Knights.“It’s very important to have two teams competing on the International stage. The Knights are predominately a young group of players and the aim is to get those players used to being part of an England programme to help their transition into the full side when they hopefully do make that step-up.“They will play two very tough and credible games against France and Samoa which are important in their own right but those games will also be part of England’s preparation for the Four Nations at the end of the season because we’ll be in camp at the same time and we’ll be training together.“We have a very exciting crop of young players coming through and there’s good competition and hopefully this group of players, guided by Kieron, will put in some very good performances and hopefully that will lead to them putting pressure on the senior side and pushing for places and that will force people to fight for their positions.”The Knights will play their first competitive game against France on Saturday October 15 with their second test coming against Samoa on October 22 (venues TBC) and Purtill is relishing the opportunity to lead the Knights into battle.“It’s a great honour for me to be appointed as Knights coach,” said Purtill. “This is a great opportunity for me because it puts me in the privileged position where I get to work with some of the most talented youngsters in the country.“There’s going to be a wealth of talent in the squad and it’s an exciting time to get involved. It’s really good for the sport at the moment to see so many young players involved with the senior side as well and there are some really talented players in the Knights programme so I’m looking forward to the challenge.“It’s great for the players to have some games to look forward to as well as it gives them a very real focus in training and allows us to set goals and targets,” he added.“The players know that if they can play well and handle themselves well in camp then they might catch the eye of Steve McNamara and get their chance in the England side and that’s a big incentive to all the players and I think it’s a very positive situation. The players will constantly be pushing themselves and striving to improve and that will make for competition for team places.“We go into camp next week and I’m really looking forward to it as it gives me the opportunity to meet some of the players for the first time and see what they all bring. It’s also a nice break for the day to day Super League as it freshens me up as I can learn different things from all the players as well and I’m looking forward to the experience.” England Knights Squad:James Donaldson (Bradford Bulls, Wath Brow Hornets)Elliott Whitehead (Bradford Bulls, West Bowling)Joe Arundel, (Castleford Tigers, Castleford Panthers)Luke Gale (Harlequins, Middleton Marauders)Dale Ferguson (Huddersfield Giants, Featherstone Lions)Michael Lawrence (Huddersfield Giants, Newsome Panthers)Jermaine McGilvary (Huddersfield Giants, Deighton Juniors)Larne Patrick (Huddersfield Giants, Townville Tigers)Shaun Lunt (Huddersfield Giants, Ellenborough Rangers)Danny Houghton (Hull FC, East Hull)Joe Westerman (Hull FC, Featherstone Lions)Liam Watts (Hull KR, Featherstone Lions)Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos, Latchford Albion)Jodie Broughton (Salford City Reds, Queens ARLFC)Stefan Ratchford (Salford City Reds, Wigan St Pats)Matty Smith (Salford City Reds, Blackbrook)Paul Clough (St Helens, Blackbrook)Jamie Foster (St Helens, Blackbrook)Scott Moore (St Helens, Blackbrook)Chris Riley (Warrington Wolves, Woolston Rovers)Josh Charnley (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)Darrell Goulding (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats) Stefan Marsh (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)Lee Mossop (Wigan Warriors, Hensingham)
The centre has been banned for one match, and fined £300, after being found guilty of a downgraded charge of Other Contrary Behaviour in the game against Salford on Friday.He had originally been charged at Grade C for the incident which occurred in the 58th minute of the game.
“Warrington are a good side, are well organised and well coached,” he said. “They came with a certain style of play that was allowed for the whole game and it was hard to watch. So to win that, well, it’s full credit to our players to hang on and find a way.“Longy (Sean Long) had a lot of confidence in Danny. I thought Tommy Makinson kicks the ball a long way, should we get him on … but Longy said Danny would kick it and he did.“He is a great young kid. To be able to step up and kick that at the end of the game is special. He is everything you want in a young player – you want them to back yourself. It was great to see. It’s good for our comp and our team.”He continued: “We had a big start to the second half and it was important to take the chance as we knew there wouldn’t be that many opportunities. “We came into it in the last 10 of the first half and I thought LMS was outstanding in that spell. Theo Fages did the same in the second half.“Jonny Lomax was fantastic again too.“We knew it would be hard, but it was an important win.”