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Assisted suicide bills being pushed at Westminster and Holyrood

November 2021 | by Evangelical Times

Lord Wallace has spoken out against the plans CREDIT: UK Parliament
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Campaigning politicians have introduced bills in the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments in a bid to legalise assisted suicide.

In London, Baroness Meacher’s assisted dying bill aims to legalise physician assisted suicide for patients with a terminal illness and six months or less to live.

In Edinburgh, Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur aims to give terminally ill, mentally competent adults the legal right to an assisted death.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association, which represents doctors in the UK, has shifted its position from being against assisted dying to being neutral.

A vote was taken at the BMA annual representative meeting in September, and the result was extremely close.

The motion to adopt a neutral stance was carried by 49 per cent of representatives, with 48 per cent against and 3 per cent abstaining.

Supporters of assisted suicide say it is a compassionate way to allow people to die with dignity, and there will be safeguards to stop any abuse.

But opponents say it introduces a culture of death and puts pressure on the vulnerable, and that safeguards always get watered down to widen the law even further.

In Scotland, Lord Wallace of Tankerness – the former Scottish Lib Dem leader and current moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland – spoke out against the plans.

He said, ‘This would have profound effects on how society regards those in our communities who are vulnerable, not just the elderly and infirm but also those with disabilities and those who are unable to speak up to protect themselves.’

There have been two previous attempts to introduce similar legislation in the Scottish Parliament, which were both voted down.

South of the border, a group of palliative care doctors have said they will play no part in helping their patients to kill themselves if assisted suicide is legalised in England and Wales.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the 21 medics also spoke out against the recent British Medical Association decision to go neutral on assisted suicide.

They said a change in the law ‘would fundamentally alter the dynamic in the patient-doctor relationship and destroy the trust’ that is so essential to their work.

They added, ‘Offering someone the option to die is akin to saying that we do not value their life, or feel that it may not be worth living.’

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a professor of palliative medicine at Cardiff University School of Medicine, has said it is a ‘myth that “assisted dying” is needed to avoid dying in pain’.

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