Scottish faith leaders urge Parliament not to legalize assisted suicide

Campaigners against assisted suicide in Scotland hold a rally outside Holyrood, Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 27, 2015.
Campaigners against assisted suicide in Scotland hold a rally outside Holyrood, Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 27, 2015. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Scottish faith leaders are making a joint plea to MSPs to reject the legalization of assisted suicide in Scotland. 

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields, the Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Bishop John Keenan, and the Imam of Dundee Central Mosque, Imam Shaykh Hamza Khandwalla, held a meeting with MSPs at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday to express their opposition.

During their meeting, hosted by the Logos Scotland think-tank, they signed a statement voicing their "deep concern" over the proposals and urged MSPs to vote them down.

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The statement says that assisted suicide undermines human dignity and puts pressure on vulnerable individuals to end their lives.

"Our faith traditions are united in the principle that assisted dying in itself inevitably undermines the dignity of the human person, and to allow it would mean that our society as a whole loses its common humanity," the statement says.

"The Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Scottish Association of Mosques remain firm in their opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia."

The latest campaign for the legalization of assisted suicide is being led by Liam McArthur, Lib Dem MSP for Orkney, whose Member's Bill would allow competent terminally ill adults to request assistance to end their life.

The faith leaders add in their joint statement, "The ways in which similar laws in other countries are being applied, and the effect that its introduction would have on some of the most vulnerable in our society, including the disabled and the elderly, would be extremely detrimental."

The statement ends with a call to MSPs "to consider carefully the implications of this bill, to express their concerns, and to vote against it."

Bishop Keenan said: "Assisted suicide attacks human dignity and results in human life being increasingly valued on the basis of its efficiency and utility. Implicit in legal assisted suicide is that an individual can lose their value and worth.

"Evidence from countries where assisted suicide or euthanasia is legal shows that vulnerable people feel pressured to end their lives through fear of being a burden. In such situations, the option of assisted suicide is less about having a 'right' to die and more about feeling the full weight and expectation of a duty to die.

"When vulnerable people, including the elderly and poor, express concerns about being a burden, the appropriate response is not to suggest that they have a duty to die; rather, it is to commit to meeting their needs and providing the care and compassion they need to help them live."

The Rev. Greenshields said: "Our opposition to assisted dying is based on our Christian faith, and involves concerns around the principle of assisted dying, around the application of the law in practice, the perception of the value of human lives, and also the effect which any change is likely to have on the provision of care — in particular, on palliative care."

Originally published at Christian Today 

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