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Nicola Sturgeon urged to oppose 'regressive' assisted suicide bill

Assisted Suicide
4 May 2022
Sturgeon

Press release | CARE for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon must oppose assisted suicide to protect people with disabilities, a charity has said, after she signalled she may support plans to legalise the practice.

In an interview with the Daily Record, Ms Sturgeon said she is "more open" to a law change and has no "concluded view" on a member's bill from Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur.

The First Minister previously expressed opposition to assisted suicide. In 2015, when the issue was last considered in Scotland, she said:

"I believe we should support people to live and I am therefore in favour of good quality palliative care. There also remains a major stumbling block to assisted suicide: How could you have sufficient safeguards?"

CARE for Scotland said the First Minister's assessment of assisted suicide's dangers was correct in 2015 and "remains so today". And it warned that people with disabilities, some of the most vocal opponents of assisted suicide, will be "alarmed" by her uncertain stance.

Stuart Weir, National Director of CARE for Scotland, commented:

“The First Minister’s statement that she is ‘more open’ to assisted suicide proposals will be alarming to those opposed to a change in the law, including many members of the disabled people’s community. Their lives are already devalued and will be further stigmatised if it reaches the statute book.

“In 2015, Ms Sturgeon highlighted the insufficiency of safeguards in legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide. Her assessment was correct then and remains so today. It has been confirmed by the tragic experience of Canada, where vulnerable citizens have been coerced into opting for assisted death after being unable to access care and support. Discrimination and inequality have been exacerbated.

“Canada, and various other jurisdictions, also bear witness to the ‘slippery slope’ that occurs with such laws. If Scotland opens the door to assisted suicide for the terminally ill, a campaign to widen eligibility will begin in earnest. People with disabilities or mental health conditions could be eligible next. No guarantee made today can rule out expansion by future parliaments or through the courts.

“We would urge the First Minister, members of her government, and indeed all MSPs to carefully review the evidence regarding assisted suicide, which confirms that it is dangerous, regressive, and likely to result in profound injustices against some of the most marginalised people in society. Assisted suicide is not something a truly compassionate country should countenance.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

CARE provides policy analysis from a Christian perspective. For interview requests contact Jamie Gillies: jamie.gillies@care.org.uk // 07384467819

About Liam McArthur's 'Assisted Dying' Bill

Liam McArthur MSP aims to introduce the right to an assisted death for terminally ill adults through member's legislation. A public consultation on the proposals closed at the end of last year, and reportedly received a high volume of responses.

Read CARE for Scotland's response:

Assisted suicide would change Scottish society for the worse | CARE

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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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