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Scottish Church leaders oppose assisted suicide proposal

Reverend Andrew Downie, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, and Reverend Bob Akroyd, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, are urging MSPs not to support Liam McArthur's Bill to legalise assisted suicide.

The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill was introduced on the 27th of March 2024. Church leaders expressed their concerns over the proposal and sent a letter to all 129 MSPs, urging them to reconsider, as the 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”.

Church leaders fear that Scotland risks “becoming an ethical wilderness” and think the Scottish Parliament “must always maintain that all lives are equally meaningful”. Legalising euthanasia would send the message that some people “have become unworthy of life”. 

The letter reads: “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. 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. We also believe that for a civilised society to survive, everyone should believe that everyone else is equally valuable. It is very important, therefore, to understand the consequences for the Scottish Parliament if it crosses the bright red moral line of acknowledging that, if a life does not reach a certain quality, then it loses its worth and can be ended. It would become a society where the value of all human life is actually unequal and purely relative. It would be a society where the worth of every human life could then be graded depending on its usefulness, meaningfulness, and the amount of pleasure it may experience. 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.”

The proposed Bill would allow terminally ill adults in Scotland, who are eligible, to lawfully request, and be provided with, assistance by health professionals to end their own life. Two doctors are required to assess a person as being eligible. Both professionals have to be satisfied that a person is acting voluntarily, without being coerced or pressured. If confirmed as eligible, a terminally ill adult can lawfully be provided with an approved substance by a health professional. They can choose to administer this substance to themselves to end their life. Assisting death outside of what is set out in the Bill would remain unlawful.


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