Taking a pro-assisted suicide stance would force people of faith to leave the Scottish National Party, one of its former council leaders has warned.
Chris McEleny, who recently stepped down as the SNP Group Leader for Inverclyde, has voiced concerns at plans by party activist Josh Aaron-Mennie to introduce a motion on assisted suicide at the party’s annual conference next month.
The SNP does not currently have an official position on assisted suicide, but Aaron-Mennie, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee, is seeking “for the party to take a view on the policy” aiming to gain support in the Scottish Parliament for removing existing protections.
McEleny urged the party “against any policy changes” on assisted suicide and hoped that such matters would “be left to individual conscience”.
He warned that “to adopt a party policy position that is incongruous to the beliefs of many party voters would make continued membership of the party not compatible with their faith”.
The councillor added that profound matters of conscience “must not become issues that party positions are taken on”.
Bills previously defeated
In the last decade, two assisted suicide Bills have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament and on each occasion MSPs were given a free vote.
In a statement last year the Scottish Government said it “respects the will of the Scottish Parliament on assisted dying, and is committed to ensuring that everyone has dignity and respect at the end of their life. Scotland is widely recognised for providing high-quality care in this area.”
In 2015, SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford spoke out powerfully against the practice in a debate at Westminster.