Scotland’s First Minister and Health Secretary have publicly restated their opposition to legalising assisted suicide.
Following a meeting with disability campaigners, Humza Yousaf revealed his position had hardened on removing end-of-life protections for vulnerable people.
Speaking to The Herald, Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, Michael Matheson, also said he would still not support MSP Liam McArthur’s proposed Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill.
In an interview with the Daily Record, Yousaf said that after a recent discussion with Glasgow Disability Alliance “I feel even less persuaded” to back a change in the law.
the thin end of the wedge
Yousaf explained that, at the meeting, “a whole group of individuals, people with disabilities” had “put forward a very passionate plea” to him as First Minister not to support assisted suicide.
He said that “they were incredibly strong in their opposition”, feeling that “they would be the ones, as they described it, that would be the thin end of the wedge” when it came to removing end-of-life protections.
When asked whether he supported McArthur’s Bill, Matheson – a Roman Catholic – answered: “No, I don’t. I’ve opposed it previously.
“It’s an issue which I’ve raised as a matter of personal conscience and it’s something which I continue to oppose. Because I don’t believe it’s society’s responsibility to make those decisions.”
According to The Herald, his opposition stems, in part, from a fear that sick and disabled people would be coerced into seeking help to end their own lives.
Liam McArthur’s Bill, which is expected to be drafted by the end of the year, seeks to allow residents aged 16 or over deemed to be terminally ill to be prescribed drugs to kill themselves.