Columnist: ‘Scotland must back away from cliff-edge of assisted suicide’

Scotland must not further abandon its moral heritage by legalising assisted suicide, a columnist has warned.

Writing in The Telegraph, Roman Catholic author Catherine Pepinster criticised The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly for voting to re-examine the Kirk’s long-standing opposition to assisted suicide.

Liam McArthur MSP’s Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill, which is expected to be drafted by the end of the year, seeks to allow residents aged 16 or over and deemed to be terminally ill to be prescribed drugs to kill themselves.

‘Cheap solution’

The author cited warnings that instead of assisted suicide leading to “some kind of pain-free happy valley for the terminally ill”, it “changes relationships between doctors and patients, and tempts hard-pressed relatives to persuade vulnerable family members to do the decent thing and end it all”.

She added: “This is a cliff-edge moment for the nation. In trying to bring in a bright new tomorrow, Scotland may well be opting for the harshest possible solution: a utilitarian regime. In other words, a cheap solution to dying. That is not about good deaths at all.”

Pepinster said some activists view the issue as just one part of “moving their country – once a byword for traditional values – to being one that tears up all manner of ethical rule books”.

The author highlighted former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who pushed the Scottish Government’s ‘sex-swap’ Bill to allow 16-year-olds to change their legal sex by self-declaration without a medical diagnosis.


In 2016, Canada legalised euthanasia for certain circumstances but it has already abolished the requirement for a person to be terminally ill and intends to extend it to those who suffer from mental health problems from 2024.

Pepinster highlighted a Canadian 2017 cost analysis report that “baldly made it plain” that reduced healthcare spending is “at the heart of state-endorsed killing”, and “one of the costly aspects of healthcare that assisted dying cuts is the tender, often one-to-one palliative care of those coming to the end of their lives”.

Earlier this month, Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic and Muslim leaders warned the Scottish Parliament that legalising assisted suicide would be “extremely detrimental” to the vulnerable.

Speaking ahead of an event considering Liam McArthur’s proposed Bill, the Church of Scotland’s former Moderator Rt Revd Dr Iain Greenshields, Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland Bishop John Keenan and Imam Shaykh Khandwalla signed a joint statement opposing the proposals.

Also see:

Plan 75 film shows ‘a disturbingly realistic glimpse’ of assisted suicide

Assisted suicide a ‘gamechanger’ in undermining care for the vulnerable

Assisted suicide campaign ‘very scary’ for disabled people

Related Resources