Campaigners have welcomed a statement of opposition to assisted suicide by Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf.
Mr Yousaf says his opposition to ‘assisted dying’ plans at Holyrood has hardened, given the testimony of disabled people.
In an interview with the Daily Record, he said: “My view has always been to be open minded to the discussion, but I have not been persuaded and I feel even less persuaded after a recent discussion with the Glasgow Disability Alliance.
“I went to meet with [chief executive] Tressa Burke and a whole group of individuals, people with disabilities, and 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”.
“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”, he added.
Responding to the news, Dr Miro Griffiths, an expert in disability policy and spokesman for the Better Way campaign, said:
“It is reassuring to hear that Humza Yousaf has met with disabled people and recognised their profound concerns about assisted suicide. As a disabled person who has looked at this issue very carefully, I’m convinced that a change in the law would be the wrong path for Scotland.
“In the coming months, I hope many more MSPs will engage with the disabled people’s community and their representative organisations. Disabled people are under threat from the proposals shortly to be introduced at Holyrood.
“When you analyse the evidence on assisted suicide, it shows that there are profound and unavoidable dangers for both individuals and society at large. In other jurisdictions safeguards have failed and been eroded over time. There is no guarantee this would not happen in Scotland.
“In countries such as Canada, we see cases of coercion and abuse, discrimination against disabled people, and even people feeling forced to opt for assisted death because care is too expensive. Opening the door to this practice in Scotland risks similar outcomes, affecting the most marginalised.”
Dr Griffiths added:
“It is right to feel empathy for people struggling with terminal illness who feel like ending their lives. Ensuring access to high quality palliative care and counselling is the right response. Giving vulnerable people an experimental cocktail of drugs designed to kill them is not.
“We have a better vision for Scotland. A vision involving high quality palliative care for all, increased action on suicide prevention, and greater work to eliminate discrimination and stigma. These goals are only attainable if the door to assisted suicide remains firmly shut.”
Notes for editors
Better Way opposes assisted suicide, sets out an alternative vision, and provides a platform for marginalised voices.
The campaign is supported by experts in several fields including medicine, disability advocacy, and sociology.
A high quality image of Dr Miro Griffiths is available on request.
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