Bishops: Assisted suicide attacks human dignity 

Scotland's Catholic bishops have hit out at assisted suicide proposals describing them as an attack on human dignity.

In a submission to the consultation on assisted suicide proposed by Liam McArthur MSP, they said that assisted suicide will undermine efforts to prevent all suicides, damage public trust in doctors and leave frail, elderly and disabled people feeling they are a burden on society.

The church response was submitted to the consultation by Anthony Horan, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office.

He said: “Assisted suicide attacks human dignity and is based on the mistaken belief that individuals can lose their value and worth.

"The state should support the provision of care, not the deliberate killing, of those at the end of life.”

Pressure on vulnerable

Mr Horan added: “Assisted suicide undermines efforts to prevent suicide and sends a message that suicide is sometimes appropriate.

"It also sends a clear message to frail, elderly and disabled Scots about the value that society places on them and puts pressure on them to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others. This is intolerable and utterly wrong.

“No matter how well intentioned the safeguards are, it is impossible for any government to draft assisted suicide laws which include legal protection from future expansion of those laws.

The slippery slope is real and dangerous. MSPs should be preventing suicide, not assisting it by introducing a dangerous law with deadly and irreparable consequences.”

Sold out audience hear truth about assisted suicide

EVENT: Understanding the Catholic view of assisted suicide

“It’s getting worse” says Dr David Jones, as he discusses the spread of assisted suicide.

“We can see that in Belgium and The Netherlands. It’s not only the elderly and people with physical diseases, it’s also those suffering from psychiatric problems.”

Dr Jones (left), director of the Anscombe Bioethic Centre in Oxford and award winning scholar and author, is coming to Edinburgh this month to discuss the Catholic view of assisted suicide.

He spoke in a week when Belgian doctors were put on trial for euthanising a 38-year-old woman who was suffering after a difficult relationship breakup.

The macabre march of assisted suicide in Belgium is something he is familiar with, having co-edited the book Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from Belgium (2017).

He said: “Suicide is something that the church views as a tragedy. It recognises that people who do it may be in a very disturbed state of mind, so the church prays for people who have committed suicide.”

On medically assisted suicide, he said: “If a person is young, people try very hard to prevent suicide. But if the person is older, isolated or has disabilities, some people think it’s quite reasonable for them to take their own lives.

“Rather than helping them to live, they assist them in ending their lives, which they wouldn’t so if they were younger and healthier. So it involves a kind of discrimination.”

Dr Jones will be joined at the event by Evelyn Howie (left), a former senior palliative care nurse, who spent 15 years at St Columba’s Hospice in Edinburgh.

She hopes to dispel a few myths about hospices.

“There’s an assumption that it’s a very sad and difficult place to work,” she said. “On the contrary, it was a happy and positive place. A hospice provides specialist palliative care and is dedicated to improving the lives of people with a life limiting disease.

"So it helps them live with peace and dignity, to alleviate suffering and help individuals through the dying process, which is a process of life.”

Bioethics Day, 11am, Saturday 25th January, Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh. Free event, organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catechetics. Register on Eventbrite.