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Scottish Assisted Dying Bill a ‘dangerous’ idea, says Catholic bishop

by Kelly Valencia

The Bishop of Paisley believes the potential introduction of assisted dying into Scottish law is “a dangerous idea”.

Rt John Keenan made the remarks as the Assisted Dying Bill was introduced to Holyrood on Thursday. The bill, expected to be debated in autumn and potentially voted on next year, requires patients to have a terminal illness, be mentally sound, and gain approval from two doctors.

The bill introduced by the Lib Dem MSP, Liam MacArthur, is facing opposition from religious groups, including the Catholic Church in Scotland, the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Association of Mosques.

Bishop John believes the Bill’s name is a euphemism for ‘assisted suicide’.

He said: “Assisted dying is already practised by our health professionals and organisations, in the form of palliative care. An accurate term for what the Bill seeks to legalise is assisted suicide. It is a law which will allow a doctor to provide a patient with a lethal cocktail of drugs to kill themselves.

“Implicit in assisted suicide is that the value of human life is measured by efficiency and utility and not by dignity. In crude terms, it means an individual can lose their value to society because of illness or disability. We are called to care for those who suffer, including those at the end of life. In this way, the appropriate response of civic society to suffering is not to facilitate death by prescription, but rather, to provide good, reliable care, including palliative care, for all those who need it.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf, who is a Muslim, has indicated he will likely vote against it. The proposal stipulates strict criteria and emphasises patient autonomy, requiring them to administer the medication themselves.

According to Dignity in Dying, several countries have legalised forms of assisted dying. Examples include Switzerland as well as Australia, Canada, Spain and Colombia.

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