Assisted suicide proposals suggest 'some lives are no longer worth living'

The Scottish parliament at Holyrood is to consider legalising assisted suicide.Reuters

Legalising assisted suicide "risks sending a message that some lives are no longer worth living", it has been warned.

Writing in The Scotsman, Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer of Christian advocacy group CARE for Scotland, suggested proposals to legalise assisted suicide run contrary to the care for the sick and the vulnerable shown during the pandemic.

He said it had been "one of the most heartening aspects" of the national response to Covid to see the "razor-sharp focus on reducing and preventing death, prioritising the protection of those most vulnerable to death or serious illness, namely the sick and elderly".

He said the same principle "that all life is worthy of protection" should govern the national debate over whether to introduce assisted suicide.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide has been lodged at Holyrood by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur.

Previous attempts to change the law in Scotland have failed.

McArthur has promised "strong safeguards" to protect the vulnerable.

But the effectiveness of safeguards was questioned by Veitch because of the example of other countries which have legalised assisted suicide with restrictions only to expand their laws in subsequent years.

"While a desire to maximise autonomy over the circumstances of our death and reduce suffering may sound appealing, the proposal risks sending a message that some lives are no longer worth living," Veitch said.

"Vulnerable people may feel an anxiety not to be a burden on others, while initial 'safeguards' would likely, as has happened in Belgium and Canada, be expanded and eroded over time."