Bill proposing to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland draws criticism

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Rome Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A new bill to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland has been criticized for the impact it may have on the lives of disabled people.

The content of the bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur, is expected to be discussed later this year.

Anthony Horan, the director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “People of all faiths and none oppose assisted suicide because it has a profoundly harmful impact not only on individuals and families affected, but also on vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities.”

“Legalising assisted suicide puts immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives prematurely, for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others, and it undermines efforts to prevent suicide,” he said.

Horan added that “the removal of protections and safeguards is inevitable.”

“It is little surprise that a majority of doctors involved in end-of-life care oppose assisted suicide,” he said. “Deliberately bringing about a patient’s death is crossing the Rubicon for a profession entrusted to always act in the best interests of the patient and to first do no harm. MSPs should be preventing suicide, not assisting it.”

One parliament member has been outspoken in criticism of the bill. Scottish Labour Party member Pam Duncan-Glancy, who has a disability, said that plans to legalize assisted suicide are “dangerous” for disabled people.

She wrote on Twitter: “I am deeply worried about this. Disabled people do not yet enjoy our right to live equally. I’d far rather we had a right to live enshrined in law, long before we have a right to die. Until all things are equal, this is dangerous for disabled people.”

“We need to make sure living is better for disabled people than death,” Duncan-Glancy added in a comment. “That means properly funded care, accessible housing, equal access to health care & jobs and so on. My fear is that, bluntly, all of that costs more & the government haven’t committed nearly enough money to it.”

Assisted suicide was last debated by the Scottish Parliament in 2015, when it was rejected by 82 votes to 36.

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