Laura mclean’s Blog

Church of Scotland against dying with dignity

Posted on: December 8, 2008

The Church of Scotland have spoken out against MSP Margo MacDonald’s campaign to legalise the right to die with dignity.

The Reverend Ian Galloway, convener of The Kirk’s Church and Society Council said

“The Church believes that every life matters. When someone is suffering so much that they conclude that their life is intolerable, our response must be to do whatever it takes to help them find hope and rediscover their potential for living’.

The statement comes today as Mrs Macdonald officially launches her petition to decriminalise assisted suicide in Scotland. The 65 year old MSP suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.

Macdonald believes passionately that she has the right to die with dignity at a time of her choice.  she feels that ‘politicians are way behind public opinion on this one’.

However Reverend Galloway maintains that The Church of Scotland are very clearly against the deliberate intention to take a life, whether it is someone elses or your own. In 1994 Christian lobbying of the House of Lords committee turned a majority in favour of euthanasia into a unanimous vote against it. Today the Church has every intention of repeating their success in The Scottish Parliament.

Reverend Galloway said “The Church remains very concerned that to legalise assisted suicide would have the consequence of making some of our most vulnerable citizens even more vulnerable.’

Similar concerns have been expressed within the National Health Service. Even if someone sincerely wants to die by assistance there is fear that depression may cloud their judgement at that particular time. Pain relief specialists have voiced concerns that such requests are often used by patients to assess their worth and value to others. A positive response merely confirms their worst fears and such a decision, once acted upon, is irreversible.

But earlier today Macdonald claimed that ‘ assisting someone to die would only be at their request. There is no danger to society. It is entirely up to the individual’. Terminally ill adults in unbearable suffering, she believes, would struggle to rediscover a zest for life. Consequently, any law passed on assisted death will include a legal safeguard. This will
ensure that any terminally ill adult who chooses to die this way is mentally competent and understands the consequences of their decision. The decision would be enitrely voluntary and personal.

Macdonald’s proposal makes clear that only one person is responsible for any life. She refuses to see the autonomy to decide her own fate as a crime or sin. In spite of Macdonald’s firece proposition The Church of Scotland maintain their belief in the sanctity of life. Human life is accorded the highest value and they believe that the deliberate intervention to end it is always wrong.


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