The Public Engagement Group of Free Church of Scotland has responded to the consultation on Liam McArthur’s Proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill.
The group welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the public debate on matters surrounding assisted dying. They indicated that they agreed with Liam McArthur that it is vital as we emerge from the pandemic that we seek as a society to “create a new standard for how we die”; that there is a need for much greater investment in palliative care for those facing death and support for their family and friends; and that a truly compassionate and just society would recognise that all life has intrinsic value and dignity – regardless of our circumstances. It would seek to do all that we can to care well for the whole person.
The Public Engagement Group in their response stated that a proposal for “assisted dying” should seek to address all of the many complex needs surrounding end of life care. However, Liam McArthur’s proposal is wrongly focused exclusively on what should be called “assisted suicide”. It is true that introducing assisted suicide into law would “create a new standard for how we die”, however, it would be a move in the wrong direction – a move away from excellent palliative care towards involving healthcare professionals in killing patients. It would result in a huge amount of pressure being placed on the most vulnerable in our society to end their lives. It would result in a more unjust society.
Rev. Stephen Allison, co-ordinator of the group said, “As a Christian church we are called to speak up for the vulnerable in our society (Proverbs 31:8-9) and accordingly, we cannot be silent but must speak clearly to warn of the inevitable harms associated with these proposals.”
The Free Church of Scotland is fundamentally opposed to assisted suicide because it devalues human life, places undue pressure on the vulnerable and is open to abuse and incremental extension. We believe life is a gift from God and those suffering deserve our compassion and care. Accordingly, we are committed to more palliative care and proper emotional and spiritual support for those facing death, and their loved ones.
The Free Church of Scotland urges members of the Scottish Parliament to reject Liam McArthur’s proposals. The full response to the consultation can be found here.
Given how serious these proposals are the Public Engagement Group are calling on local congregations, ministers and members of the Free Church of Scotland to pray that these proposals would be rejected and also to respond themselves to the consultation – the deadline for responding is Wednesday 22nd December. Responses do not need to be as detailed as our full response. Care have produced an excellent guide with a few bullet points to help you respond. They estimate it should take 5-10 minutes to respond using the Online Response form.