Former MSP who lost four children speaks out against assisted suicide

Dennis Canavan has suffered the loss of four children.(Photo: ITV)

A former MSP who has suffered the deaths of four of his children is advocating against assisted suicide.

Dennis Canavan, 79, said that assisted suicide was not necessary to "ensure dignity in death". 

The former independent MSP lost his 16-year-old son Paul to skin cancer in 1989. In 2006, his son Dennis died at the age of 35 from a brain tumour.

In 2007, his eldest son Mark died at the age of 41 from motor neurone disease. Ten years later, his daughter Ruth died at the age of 49. Her cause of death was not disclosed. 

He shared his experience at a recent event by Care Not Killing, which is campaigning against Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur's efforts to change the law on assisted suicide in Scotland. 

"I have probably had more than my fair share of deaths in my family, having suffered the loss of four children, three of them as the result of terminal illness," he said. 

"However, I found the standard of NHS care to be excellent and the standard of palliative care in our local Strathcarron Hospice was first class.

"My children undoubtedly underwent some pain but it was minimised by caring health professionals.

"As a result, my children died in dignity and I do not accept that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death."