Legalising assisted suicide in Scotland would erode human dignity and create mistrust between doctors and the general public, religious leaders have warned MSPs.
Leaders from the Christian and other faith communities all criticised a Bill to allow patients as young as 16 to end their lives, even if they are not terminally ill.
Revd Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland, told the Health and Sport Committee that she is concerned the Bill will put pressure on those who find themselves “vulnerable” or “marginalised” at the end of their lives.
She explained that often there is “internal pressure” within a person, so that if they are told their life is not worth living a “seed” is planted.
“Compelling stories do not make good safe legislation”, Revd Foster-Fulton argued.
“We cannot safeguard the slow erosion of the understanding of the dignity and the worth of human life”, she added.
Former Free Church of Scotland Moderator and retired surgeon Revd Dr Donald MacDonald said that if we believe we are made in the image of God, “we have a responsibility not just to maintain our own lives but to maintain the lives of others, to respect their lives, and to care for one another throughout our lives”.
Ephraim Borowski, Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said the Bill is pushing the belief that “some lives are not worth as much as others”.
And Dr Salah Beltagui, of the Muslim Council of Scotland, said the Bill will not benefit society.
Culture of suicide
He argued that it will foster “mistrust between the medical profession and the general public”, and create a “culture of suicide”.
He said the option of suicide would be a “very attractive one to many young people”, especially those with depression.
The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill is now being led by Patrick Harvie, following the death of Margo MacDonald.
Further evidence is being heard from campaign groups, including Care Not Killing, next week.