Assisted suicide: campaigners against bill welcome hardening opposition from first minister
Campaigners spearheading opposition to assisted suicide legislation have welcomed comments by First Minister Humza Yousaf who says his views against the proposed law have hardened following talks with disability groups.
Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, said:
"When we look at how disabled people, the poor and those who are vulnerable are being pressured into assisted dying in Canada, whilst not being given the social supports they need to live, we can see how quickly any assisted suicide or euthanasia regime can become corrupted and driven by cost savings."
Speaking to the Daily Record, the First Minister, who earlier this year expressed his opposition to assisted suicide, said:
"I feel even less persuaded after a recent discussion with the Glasgow Disability Alliance.
"They were incredibly strong in their opposition to assisted dying, given that they felt that they would be the ones, as they described it, that would be the thin end of the wedge when it came to assisted dying."
"They were really worried, particularly after COVID. They told me the experiences that they had in terms of Do Not Resuscitate notices. So they were really worried and put forward a very passionate plea to me as First Minister not to support assisted dying."
The members' Bill is being drawn up by Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur who has already come under fire from CNK over the results of his consultation process which was branded "misleading" regarding claims over the levels of public support.
It was claimed 76 per cent of those responding backed the legislation but following detailed publication of the data, campaigners opposed to assisted suicide say the figure is substantially less at just 63 per cent.
CNK said a press release issued by the Lib Dems stated incorrectly there had been around 14,000 responses.
CNK said on investigating when the information became available the total was actually more than 17,000 and that thousands of responses from supporters of charity Right To Life UK had been excluded.
CNK's CEO Dr Gordon Macdonald expressed his deep concerns at the manipulation of the data as he revealed the total responses was 17,014 and not the 14,038 claimed in the Lib Dem release - which excluded a total of 3,352 from Right To Life's supporters.
"Liam McArthur should be honest about the negative impact of his proposals for those most vulnerable in our society. He should not have discounted over 3,000 formal responses to his consultation which expressed these concerns. Nor should he be quoting questionable polls which inflate the level of public support for his proposals.
"Polling has shown that 57% of the public don't even know that the term 'assisted dying' refers to giving lethal drugs to people to kill themselves.
"Over 50% of the public are concerned that should assisted suicide be legalised, some people would feel pressurised into accepting help to take their own life so as not to be a burden on others.
"78% agree that "as a society we ought to try to do everything we reasonably can to reduce the rate of suicides, especially among men who are three times as likely as women to take their own lives".
"As we approach World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September, Liam McArthur should be seeking to help reduce the suicide rate in Scotland rather than increase it as his proposal will inevitably do.
"With 1 in 4 cancer patients in Scotland not getting all the palliative care they could benefit from owing to shortages of funding and stretched NHS resources, that is the issue MSPs should be seeking to address rather than opting for the cheap option of helping people to end their own lives."
He said support for assisted suicide is dropping and a recent Ipsos poll in July showed the headline figure was just 65 per cent - while the website of Dignity in Dying which backs the McArthur Bill claims support of 84 per cent, based on an older 2019 Populus poll.
Tom Hamilton Communications