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Humanist Society has its say on assisted dying in the media

May 22, 2023

Our CEO Fraser Sutherland has been getting our views on assisted dying across on the radio and in the news. He’s been talking in response to an event held at Holyrood by faith leaders on 18 May, outlining their opposition to Liam McArthur’s assisted dying bill. The Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church, and the Scottish Association of Mosques put out a joint statement on the same day, claiming that assisted dying “inevitably undermines the dignity of the human person.”

This is a faith-based position couched in the language of human rights. At its root is the belief that only a god or gods can decide when and how people should die. This view leads to needless suffering and we strongly oppose it.

Fraser gave the following media statement, which was quoted on BBC News and elsewhere:

“The comments released today are from three faith leaders in Scotland. However, we know that there is significant support for an assisted dying right amongst individual people of faith.

Fraser Sutherland talks to a small crowd, wearing a blue suit, infront of a banner that reads "Humanist Society Scotland."

The proposed bill is about giving people the right and choice to control their own deaths….Why should the views of three senior clerics block the rights of others to a choice that meets their beliefs?

Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland

“It is important to recognise that the proposed bill by Liam McArthur would allow terminally ill people access to an assisted death should they choose it. The bill is about giving people the right and choice to control their own deaths in a way to minimise suffering. Equally, it will protect and respect the choices of individuals who do not wish to access a medically assisted death and provide a right to conscientious objection for medical practitioners.

“The question arising from this event for MSPs and wider society is why the views of three senior clerics should take precedence and block the rights of others to a choice that meets their beliefs on life and death in their final hours.”

We were also delighted to contribute to a phone-in on BBC Radio Scotland on 22 May. Fraser asked presenter Connie McLaughlin why we consider it’s acceptable for “two people every day to have a really bad death”. Listeners also heard powerful stories from many members of the public who spoke up in favour of assisted dying across the show.

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