Legalising assisted suicide in Scotland will irreparably damage the relationship between Scottish society and its most vulnerable, opponents have warned.
Care Not Killing, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church all fear that removing end-of-life protections will put pressure on disabled, sick and frail people to seek help to kill themselves.
Liam McArthur MSP is pressing ahead with his plan to overturn current legislation and has recently launched a public consultation.
The Care Not Killing coalition is strongly opposed to changing the law, and argues that doing so would pressurise “vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others”.
Lord Wallace of Tankerness, a former Deputy First Minister and current Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said that the Kirk opposes a move away from the “current societal protection of life”.
To do so, he added, “would have profound effects on how society regards those in our communities who are vulnerable, not just the elderly and infirm but also those with disabilities and those who are unable to speak up to protect themselves”.
And Anthony Horan, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said: “Legalising assisted suicide puts immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives prematurely”.
‘A duty to die’
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said: “The choice to die very quickly becomes a duty to die.
“So-called safeguards in other jurisdictions have evaporated, often staggeringly quickly. And the drugs given to people to kill themselves can cause intense suffering.
“True compassion for those who are terminally ill means valuing their lives, giving them hope, and ensuring that high quality palliative care is available to everyone who needs it.”
Last month, results from a survey by Age Scotland revealed that over one in three older people living in Scotland believe their lives are a burden to society.
Two assisted suicide Bills have been defeated in the Scottish Parliament since 2010.
Most recently, in 2015, MSPs rejected Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill by 82 votes to 36.
A majority of MSPs in both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour parties voted against the Bill, with MSPs from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the SNP also rejecting the legislation, but both Scottish Green MSPs at the time voted in favour of the Bill.