Cross-party msps oppose calls to legalise assisted suicide

A group of politicians from across the political spectrum have joined together to oppose efforts to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

The case of Noel Conway and the campaign group Dignity in Dying brought the issue into the spotlight in 2017. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Figures including Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, SNP MSP John Mason, Labour MSP Elaine Smith and six others have written a letter in The Sunday Times stating that “society should be preventing suicide, not assisting it”.

They said that legalising assisted suicide would be the measure of a “desperately cold, soulless society”.

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It comes after a group of nine cross-party politicians including acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie wrote to the newspaper last week to support a change in the law.

In their letter opposing the idea, the politicians write: “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 add: “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.

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“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.”

The other signatories are Tory MSPs Jeremy Balfour, Donald Cameron and Gordon Lindhurst, Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles and Neil Bibby MSP and Mark Griffin MSP, both of Scottish Labour.

Previous attempts to change the law on assisted dying in Scotland have failed.

Campaigners want the Scottish Parliament to legislate to allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults to have the choice of an assisted death.

A poll published this week found that nearly nine in 10 people in Scotland support legalising assisted dying.

The Populus survey, commissioned by campaign group Dignity in Dying Scotland, found 87% backed the move for terminally ill people with less than six months to live, with medical approval and safeguards.

Just 8% of people were opposed while the remainder said they did not know.