Churches Blast Suicide Bill; Religious Groups Join Doctors to Urge MSPs to Reject Controversial Legislation

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Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter

RELIGIOUS leaders and medical experts will this week attack a bid to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

The Church of Scotland and the British Medical Association will lead the battle against Independent Margo MacDonald's private members' Bill when it is debated in Holyrood today and tomorrow.

Other Christian groups and representatives of the Jewish and Muslim faiths will also raise their concerns with MSPs during hearings of a special parliamentary committee.

People as young as 16 would be allowed to kill themselves at suicide clinics under the plans put forward by Miss MacDonald.

The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Church of Scotland's church and society council, has raised concerns in a letter to MSPs, sent in conjunction with the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army.

He wrote: 'The churches fundamentally disagree with the proposed legislation.

'Such legislation, breaching as it does the societal prohibition on the taking of human life, carries implications for attitudes to many aspects of health and social care, not simply for the determined few who are pushing for change.

'On this matter we are clear that, while we are sympathetic towards the fears and desires of those who may be afraid of a painful death, what is proposed in this Bill is not the solution.

'Rather, there is a necessity to ensure that, as far as possible, all have access to good palliative care, which, in the widest sense, involves caring not just for the physical but also the emotional and spiritual needs of people coming towards the end of their lives.' In a written submission, the Muslim Council of Scotland said: 'Life is the greatest gift from God and to tamper with it or interfere to end it is the most serious sin and an act of ingratitude against the creator. …