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Scottish assisted suicide plans are a threat to disabled people, say campaigners

Assisted Suicide
11 April 2024
Empty wheelchair by hospital sofa

Campaign groups have raised their concerns with MSPs over a new proposed Bill on assisted suicide in Scotland, suggesting it poses a significant threat to disabled individuals.

The Bill, introduced by Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur aims to allow people with advanced terminal illnesses to end their lives.

The letter authors, which include the Better Way Campaign, Disability Equality Scotland, the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living and others, have urged MSPs to oppose the Bill fearing it could lead to a "slippery slope" effect, eventually broadening the Bill's scope and putting vulnerable populations at risk.

The letter said: “We acknowledge the sincere motives that Mr Liam McArthur MSP, the Bill’s sponsor, and his supporters bring to his proposed legislation,

“We also acknowledge that the arguments brought forward by the Bill’s supporters seem coherent and logical when applied to a small group of very vulnerable individuals.

“What is not acknowledged is that the Bill poses a major threat to a much wider population of people, notably those with long-term conditions and disabilities.

“However much the Bill attempts to limit the scope of its application, there are two major reasons why so-called safeguards will not be sustainable in the long term.”

Concerns were raised about the difficulty in predicting the lifespan of those with terminal illnesses and the potential societal pressure for assisted dying.

The groups emphasised the importance of supporting disabled people to live independently and fully, rather than creating a legislative environment that could compromise their security and well-being.

“The fear that AD (assisted dying) as an individual choice will evolve into a societal pressure to make that choice, is real and justified,” the letter added.

“Changes in the type of people seeking AD show that over time, there is an increase in AD among those who are less well-off and for whom the cost of living actually means the cost of staying alive.

“The priority for disabled people is to secure the support they need to live independent and full lives like any other citizen.

“Our Parliament ought not to create an environment in which that priority – and the security that goes with it – is prejudiced now, or in the future.”

However, Liam McArthur defends the Bill, highlighting the specific and limited circumstances it addresses and the inclusion of safeguards, drawing parallels with similar laws in other countries.

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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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