AN EXPERT on disability policy says he’s “saddened” by an announcement, on World Mental Health Day, that a bill to permit ‘assisted dying’ will move forward in Scotland.
This morning, it was announced that a member’s bill – the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill – has achieved enough signatures to be formally introduced at Holyrood.
If passed, the bill would make it legal for people in Scotland with a terminal illness to be prescribed lethal drugs by healthcare providers, so that they can end their own lives.
The Better Way campaign, a group of academics, disability activists and medics, oppose the bill arguing that laws overseas have expanded and given rise to serious injustices.
Speaking this morning, Dr Miro Griffiths, an expert on disability policy and spokesman for Better Way, expressed sadness about the announcement:“It’s saddening that the passage of this proposal has been confirmed on World Mental Health Day 2022.
“A time when we affirm the positive steps taken in our society to remove stigma around mental health issues and encourage people to speak up.
“Promoting the mental wellness and flourishing of human beings means holding to a consistent standard regarding the value of human life.
“A standard that says people ought to be protected, respected, encouraged, and supported amid life’s various trials.”
Dr Griffiths continued, adding: “Assisted dying wholly undermines this standard by creating a pernicious exception where some people, coping with some circumstances, get no help.
“They are condemned to death via a cocktail of drugs. This isn’t compassion. And it isn’t dignified.
“In nations where assisted euthanasia is legal, we have seen an undeniable lapse in the value ascribed to human beings.
“Disabled people and people with mental health conditions are not given the respect, protection, and affirmation they deserve.
“Championing the mental health of citizens means affirming their inherent dignity and walking through hard seasons with them. Enabling light in the darkness.
“It does not mean state-sanctioned suicide. We earnestly call on MSPs not to enable this.”
Liam Mcarthur MSP lodged a final proposal for the assisted dying bill with parliament in early September giving him a 30-day window to gather cross party support.
He attained backing for his bill from 36 MSPs meaning the bill now moves forward with parliament today stating that McArthur has the right to introduce his legislation.
McArthur published the results of his public consultation on the bill which showed 14,000 respondents both for and against the bill, a record number.
The bill is a contentious issue that has sparked widespread debate among the public and campaigners with many arguing vehemently for both sides.
Previously a similar bill to change the law on assisted dying was introduced by MSP Margo MacDonald, who died after a battle with Parkinson’s disease in 2014.