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Former MP says loss of children informs opposition to assisted suicide

Assisted Suicide
12 January 2022
Dennis Canavan 2

Ex MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, who tragically lost four children - three to terminal illness - has urged Scottish parliamentarians to oppose assisted suicide.

In a letter to The Herald newspaper, Mr Canavan drew on his personal experience in warning against a change in the law. He wrote:

"I have probably had more than my fair share of deaths in my family, having suffered the loss of three of my dear sons and my only beloved daughter. Three of them died as the result of terminal illness.

"I had the experience of watching two of them die and I would not wish that on any parent. However, I must say that, in general, I found the standard of NHS care to be excellent and the standard of palliative care in our local Strathcarron Hospice was first class.

"My children undoubtedly underwent some pain but it was minimised by caring health professionals who did everything possible to make their final days as comfortable as possible. As a result, my children died in dignity and I beg to differ from those who assert that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death.

He added:

"I accept that there are cases where there is justification in not prolonging life but that is quite different from actively assisting someone to commit suicide...I would not have the same respect for medical professionals if they were to become involved in actively assisting people to commit suicide.

"If we believe that the right to life is the most basic human right then it follows that no-one has the right to choose to take human life except in defence of another human life. Similarly no-one has the right to classify some human lives as less valuable than others...I urge my former colleagues in the Scottish Parliament to vote against the proposed bill".

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill was brought forward by Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur last year.

A consultation on the proposal, which would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to people with a terminal illness, closed on 22 December.

Mr McArthur has indicated that a significant number of responses were submitted and will be published in due course.

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Assisted Suicide

Where assisted suicide is legal, it makes vulnerable people feel like a burden. CARE works to uphold laws that protect those people, and to assist them to live—not to commit suicide.

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