In a show of unity, prominent faith leaders representing the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the Scottish Association of Mosques have joined forces to issue a resolute statement opposing the controversial topic of assisted dying.
This united front comes as a draft Bill is anticipated to be presented to Holyrood later this year, proposing significant changes to Scotland’s existing legislation on end-of-life choices.
The proposed Bill, spearheaded by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, seeks to empower competent adults who are terminally ill with the option of seeking assistance to end their lives. However, this potential legislation has sparked a strong response from religious leaders who firmly believe that such a move would undermine the sanctity of life.
The statement read: “Our faith traditions are united in the principle that assisted dying in itself inevitably undermines the dignity of the human person, and to allow it would mean that our society as a whole loses its common humanity.
“We grieve with those who grieve and identify with those who suffer. We acknowledge the sincerely held motivation of those seeking change, but do not believe that this is the correct approach to the alleviation of suffering. There is a very real danger that once legalised, these practices could put pressure on vulnerable individuals to opt for assisted suicide.”
Under the current laws in Scotland, individuals are prohibited from requesting medical assistance to hasten their death. Advocates for assisted dying argue that the existing legislation is “unjust” and often results in “needless suffering for many dying people and their families.” They argue that a compassionate and carefully regulated approach is necessary to offer individuals the right to choose the timing and manner of their death.
Contrasting this perspective, the faith leaders’ statement emphasizes the preservation of human life as paramount. Their unified opposition to assisted dying is rooted in theological and moral principles upheld by their respective faith traditions. They argue that life is a sacred gift from a higher power and that intentionally ending it, even under the circumstances of terminal illness, would contradict their deeply held beliefs.
The statement issued by these faith leaders adds considerable weight to the ongoing debate surrounding assisted dying. Their opposition highlights the deeply held religious convictions of many Scots and the significant influence that faith-based organizations wield in shaping public opinion.