Swinney urged to oppose ‘assisted dying’

Better Way has urged John Swinney to “defend the cause of vulnerable and marginalised Scots” by opposing assisted suicide legislation.

Mr Swinney announced his attention to become SNP leader – a nomination that is expected to be uncontested – this morning.

Should he win the backing of party members, he is expected to take up post as Scottish First Minister from next week.

Mr Swinney, MSP for Perthshire North, voted against an earlier Assisted Suicide Bill in 2015.

Dr Miro Griffiths, spokesman for Better Way, commented:

“We would urge Mr Swinney to maintain his principled opposition to ‘assisted dying’ should he become First Minister of Scotland. It is vital that those in positions of authority defend the cause of vulnerable and marginalised Scots who are endangered by the bill before Holyrood.

“’Assisted dying’ raises the spectre of vulnerable people choosing to die because of overt or covert pressure. Coercion is a huge danger, and people grappling with social isolation, poverty, healthcare inequality and a host of other issues will feel pressure to opt for an ‘assisted death’ due to an unjust lack of support. No amount of legal drafting could avoid this injustice.

“There’s also the threat of expansion. In Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, previously narrow laws have become permissive. In US States, safeguards have been eroded. In Australia and New Zealand, rules are being challenged. If ‘assisted dying’ becomes a ‘right’, activists will claim that limiting access is discrimination and mount legal challenges.

“The only sure way to avoid abuses and future expansion is to keep the door to ‘assisted dying’ closed. There’s a better way forward, involving largescale investment in end-of-life care, greater suicide prevention, and better affirmation and inclusion of marginalised communities. We’d urge parliamentarians in every party to focus on this.”