Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Church of Scotland's position on the proposed End of Life Assistance Bill.

The Church of Scotland today urged MSPs to reject the proposed Lend of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill, to be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 25th November.

Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Kirk drew the attention of MSPs to the Committee which has undertaken intense scrutiny of this proposed legislation. He said: “The conclusions of the Committee are unequivocal: no change of the law in this regard is either required or desirable, as they say in their report that “the Committee was not persuaded that the case had been made …and, accordingly, does not recommend the general principles of the Bill to the Parliament.”

The ELA Scotland Bill proposes that, under certain circumstances, assistance to end their lives should be allowed for those who wish to. The Church argues that any legislation which endorses the deliberate ending of a human life undermines us as a society. The worth and dignity of every human life needs to be emphasised and celebrated; in particular, the deliberate ending of life would be a matter to be deplored if person was perceived (or perceived themselves) as merely a burden.

Legislation of the type proposed in the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill represents much more than simply a tinkering with the law. Breaching as it does the societal prohibition on the taking of human life, it carries implications for attitudes to many aspects of health and social care, not simply for the determined few who are pushing for change.

Rev Galloway continued: “An important aspect of our life as a society is in caring for the most vulnerable in society. 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 the physical and spiritual needs of people coming towards the end of their lives.”