MSPs push back strongly on assisted suicide

8th Apr 2019 - James Mildred

A cross-party group of MSPs has spoken out about fresh attempts to introduce assisted suicide in Scotland.

Last week, the Sunday Times carried a letter signed by politicians such as acting Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, all calling for a new assisted suicide law.

Prevent, don’t assist suicide

But now, a group of Holyrood politicians have pushed back, saying “society should be preventing suicide, not assisting it.”

The signatories include the SNP’s John Mason, former deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives Murdo Fraser, Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Smith and Mike Rumbles from the Scottish Lib Dems.

In the letter, the group ask: “Have we really become a society which says that the best answer we can provide to those suffering in end-of-life situations is to help them kill themselves? Is that really all that we can offer? That, to us, is the measure of a desperately cold, soulless society. We think that in Scotland today we are better than that.”

Fear of being a burden

There is a fresh attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland, after the pro-euthanasia group Dignity in Dying launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for a campaign to change the law. Last time the Scottish Parliament voted on the issue was in 2015 when MSPs resoundingly rejected assisted suicide legislation by 82-36. 

Polling from the campaign group Care Not Killing of 200 Scots showed that 47% of those questioned believe legalising assisted suicide could push some terminally people into choosing to kill themselves to avoid being a burden on others.

The latest statistics from Oregon highlight why this is a legitimate concern, with the most recent figures showing the proportion of those seeking assisted suicide because they did not want to be a burden on loved ones and caregivers has risen again to 63.6%.

Damaging effect on society

The group of politicians also argued that legalising assisted suicide would have a damaging effect on society: “It has been said that legalising assisted suicide means the whole of society, not just the person wanting to die, is accepting that a person has lost all value, worth and meaning in life.

“We believe this would have a damaging effect on society and dangerously undermine the legal protection established in the concept of equal and inherent human dignity.”

Find out more

Read the full letter in the Sunday Times here (please note: you will need to scroll down to read the letter)

Assisted suicide deaths on the rise in Oregon and Belgium

Legalising assisted suicide would be a retrograde step, warns Times columnist

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