BY No Author | March 6 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


First Minister is not convinced by assisted suicide

Nicola Sturgeon sees same pitfalls as the Church and opposition groups, and would also like to have abortion regulation devolved to Scottish Parliament. Liz Leydon and Ian Dunn report

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is extremely unlikely to support the legalisation of assisted suicide in Scotland, as she believes it would be morally unjustifiable and unsafe.

“I voted against it the last time and, although we are not near another a vote yet, I haven’t been convinced about assisted suicide this time,” the SNP party leader told the SCO.

“It is a very emotive issue for both sides, a very serious issue.”

Assisted suicide is currently before the Scottish Parliament in a member’s bill brought by Green Party Co-convener Patrick Harvie. The proposed bill is at the committee stage in Holyrood and is expected to reach the floor for a vote by MSPs shortly. Care Not Killing, to which the Church belongs, is strongly opposed to the bill and to legalising assisted suicide, believing that life should be protected and palliative care prioritised. This is something Ms Sturgeon can relate to.

“I believe we should support people to live and I am therefore  in favour of good quality palliative care,” she said.

“There also remains a major stumbling block to assisted suicide: How could you have sufficient safeguards?”

Like many of her contemporaries in the SNP and other parties, however, Ms Sturgeon is generally supportive of abortion and the status quo in terms of time limits on it, which is at odds with Catholic teaching that life is a sacred gift from God and contradicts her own stance on, and respect for, safeguarding life at the other end of the life spectrum. She believes legalised assisted suicide would be ‘open to abuse’ and that older and ill people would ‘feel like burdens on their family’ and society.

Before the last attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland in 2010, the then Health secretary and Deputy First Minister, said she and the Scottish Government opposed any change in the law.

Opponents of assisted suicide welcomed Ms Sturgeon standing her ground on the issue this time.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said: “The First Minister’s decision not to support the Assisted Suicide Bill is a sensible and reasonable one.

Gordon Macdonald, convenor of Care Not Killing Scotland, concurred saying he was ‘delighted that the First Minister has reiterated her opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide.’

The Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament, which has been hearing evidence on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) bill, will report on it later this spring, when MSPs will have their first chance to vote on it.




—Read the full version of this story in the March 6 print edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday, where you will also find the full interview with the First Minister


Pic: Paul McSherry


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