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Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash
Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash
World News

Scottish church leaders rally against assisted suicide legislation

by Lydia Davies

Scottish church leaders have voiced significant concerns over proposals making assisted suicide legal in Scotland.

Rev Andrew Downie of the United Free Church of Scotland and Rev Bob Akroyd of the Free Church of Scotland have called on MSPs to oppose Liam McArthur's Bill on assisted suicide.

If the legislation is passed, Scotland would join other countries such as Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, Austria and Ecuador in allowing assisted dying in certain circumstances.

The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill would give mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal condition the right to end their life.

The legislation would include safeguards such as independent assessments by two doctors and a 14-day cooling-off period. There would be a requirement for those requesting an assisted death to have lived in Scotland for at least a year.

Individuals would need to self-administer the substance that will end their life.

In their letter to all 129 MSPs, the church leaders stated: "Supporting the proposed legislation would cross a bright red moral line and mean that Scottish society has lost its trust in the inherent value of all human life'."

They cautioned against Scotland "becoming an ethical wilderness," stressing that "the Scottish Parliament must always maintain that all lives are equally meaningful."

The leaders also warned that legalising assisted suicide might suggest some lives "have become unworthy of life."

"We believe, as indicated in the book of Genesis in the Bible, that everyone is created by God in his image – an image that reflects and expresses his equal love for everyone,” they said.

“As a result, every life has equal value – a value which can only be measured by the sufferings of Jesus Christ on the cross for humanity."

The plan was put forward in a private members' bill by Liam McArthur, a Liberal Democrat member of the Scottish parliament, who in March said that he "absolutely convinced" the legislation will be passed because there is growing public support for the policy.

A survey by the campaign group Dignity in Dying, which campaigns in favour of legalisation, found that more than three quarters of Scots were in favour of the policy.

They church leaders have also expressed concern over society potentially deeming lives as having unequal value based on "arbitrary" standards.

The letter concluded with a plea for enhancing palliative and hospice care throughout Scotland.

"Society will then continue to recognise these patients as having full worth and value while accepting them, unconditionally, for who they are in compassion and care," it stated.

A vote on the legislation is not expected for at least several months.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)


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