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by Staff reporter
18 May 2023
Churches express 'deep concern' over assisted dying legislation

Churches express 'deep concern' over assisted dying legislation

The Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Scottish Association of Mosques have jointly expressed their “deep concern” over plans to legislate for assisted dying.

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur is expected to introduce a member’s bill in the Scottish Parliament this year after receiving the backing of 36 MSPs when putting forward a proposal last year.

The legislation would require two doctors to confirm that a person choosing to end their life is terminally ill and has the mental capacity to make the decision.

A public consultation on assisted dying received more than 14,000 responses, with around three-quarters of respondents supportive.

But in a joint statement published today, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain MacLeod Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt. Rev. Bishop John Keenan, of the Bishops’ Conference, and Imam Sheykh Hamza Khandwalla of Dundee Central Mosque called on MSPs to vote against the bill.

The statement said: “We wish to express our deep concern, on behalf of the Churches which we represent, about the proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill.

“This bill would make it legal, in certain circumstances, to help people to commit suicide. While we acknowledge the sincerely held motivation of those seeking change, we do not believe that this is the correct approach to the alleviation of suffering.”

It added: “The ways in which similar laws in other countries are being applied, and the effect that its introduction would have some of the most vulnerable in our society, including older people and people with disabilities, would be extremely detrimental. Society is called to care for those who are suffering, not to end their lives.”

There have been two previous attempts to introduce assisted dying legislation at Holyrood. In 2010, MSP Margo MacDonald, who had Parkinson’s, tried unsuccessfully to change the law. A second attempt, take on by Green MSP Patrick Harvie following MacDonald’s death in 2014, was rejected by 82 votes to 36 in a free vote.

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