Campaigners are urging Members of the Scottish Parliament to oppose the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill because it attacks the first human right – the right to life – and is a threat to all people with illness or disability.
SPUC Scotland said it was “a sad day for the Scottish Parliament that one of its leading politicians, Ms Margo MacDonald, was proposing such a dangerous bill”.
A spokesperson for SPUC Scotland said: “Among its dangerous proposals is that helping kill someone who is ill or incapacitated will enable ‘dignity in dying’ and that only a procured death is dignified. This is wholly wrong and is a terrible message to impart to our society.
“What hasn’t changed with the bill, however, is that once again it’s the terminally ill and the severely disabled or ‘physically incapacitated’ who are being targeted as qualifying for having their lives deemed ‘not worth living’ or being ‘right to want to die.’
“Not only are the measures in the bill against international human rights legislation but they do not restrict the ‘assistance’ to doctors. They call for friends and relatives to be permitted to assist, no doubt because most medics oppose assisting suicide.
“Nor are the suggested safeguards any protection for vulnerable in Scotland. We see in those countries where it is legal, such as Holland, that non-voluntary euthanasia always follows. The threat is loud and clear to the ill and disabled: you are the target.”
Alison Davis of No Less Human, a division of SPUC, who lives with severe spina bifida and other debilitating conditions that have brought her to the brink of suicide in the past, said: “The Dutch experience showed that, once euthanasia or assisted suicide is allowed, despite any number of so-called ‘strict safeguards’ such as that the killing must be ‘voluntary’, it is likely to go on to include victims who either did not, or could not, volunteer.
“I know from my own experience that what is needed is not to be abandoned or presumed to be ‘better off dead’ or to have one’s fears of being ‘burdensome’ confirmed, but rather to be surrounded by those who care. Friends and family may not be able to take the pain away, but their presence can be a source of enormous comfort.
“Sometimes what desperate people, disabled or not, need is to be given hope. What they definitely don’t need is to be told they are right to feel so unhappy and that they would be better off dead. This is simply the moral equivalent of the practical example of seeing a person about to jump off a high bridge and giving them a push.”