Assisted suicide “the measure of a desperately cold, soulless society” say Scottish politicians

8 April 2019

dark doctor
“Have we really become a society that says the best answer we can provide to those suffering in end-of-life situations is to help them kill themselves?

"We think that in Scotland today we are better than that.”

A group of Scottish politicians from across the political spectrum have spoken out against new efforts to legalise assisted suicide.

Society should prevent suicide

A number of senior members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have written a letter in The Sunday Times stating that “society should be preventing suicide, not assisting it”.

The letter is signed by Scottish Conservative MSPs Murdo Fraser, Jeremy Balfour, Donald Cameron and Gordon Lindhurst, Elaine Smith, Neil Bibby MSP and Mark Griffin MSP of Scottish Labour, the SNP’s John Mason MSP, and Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles.

It comes in response to a group of MSPs, including acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie, who wrote to the paper last week supporting assisted suicide. Dignity in Dying have also been carrying out polling as part of a campaign to make yet another attempt at bringing legislation before Holyrood.

Not assist it

The MSPs opposing assisted suicide disagree with their colleagues, asking: “Have we really become a society that says the best answer we can provide to those suffering in end-of-life situations is to help them kill themselves? Is that really all we can offer?

“That, to us, is the measure of a desperately cold, soulless society. We think that in Scotland today we are better than that.”

They also talk about the devastation that suicide causes for those left behind, and point out that Scotland has a suicide prevention strategy, for good reason. “For the state to say that suicide is to be assisted in certain circumstances means we are in danger of sending out mixed messages. Society should be preventing suicide, not assisting it,” the letter goes on.

They conclude: “It has been said that legalising assisted suicide means the whole of society, and not only the person wanting to die, is accepting that a person has lost all value, worth and meaning in life. We believe that this would have a damaging effect on society, and dangerously undermine the legal protection established in the concept of equal and inherent human dignity.”

Debate in RCP goes on

The renewed debate over assisted suicide in Scotland comes as the chairman of the Royal College of Physicians’ ethics committee has resigned after it controversially dropped its opposition to legalising assisted suicide. Prof Albert Weale says the decision to move the college to a neutral position despite it being the least popular option in their own consultation was “not coherent” and “unfair”.