This article originally appeared in The Edinburgh News:
The economic "argument" for euthanasia will come, if we don't plan for ageing and future population needs now.
The Scottish Parliament votes on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill before May's general election. Popular in the media is the claim that this is a battle of religious worldviews that forbid permission to kill (except in complicated cases of self-defence) dominating a neutral secular society based on human rights and the individual as centre of their own universe. This is not true.
Assisted suicide is not about individual choice. It is about granting the state permission to kill and making the role of the other person involved legal or illegal.
State-backed killing changes our body of laws and the social contract that underpins them, based on property rights. It would be revolutionary to change our laws to say an individual can make another individual give them a million pounds and then say this is not theft but compassion.
Assisted suicide proponents dress up assisting others to commit suicide as compassion. Property rights underpin our society. So too the right to life - seen not so long ago as so sacrosanct that the death penalty was abolished. Scots Law states that assisting another to take their life is homicide. The Lord Advocate has made that clear to the Scottish Parliament this session. Yet proponents for assisted suicide groan "the law is not clear". It is clear - assisted suicide is not legal.
If our absolute right to life is eroded so that our doctor, insurance company, lawyer, family, employer can start to influence or erode our right to life is, then a revolution is what we have. A silent one, which like torture, will go under the radar, like this Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill itself. How many people really know the facts, the evidence beyond the dramatic stories peddled by the press to make assisted suicide glamorous, compassionate and the only way to cope with or eradicate suffering? The same press that won't tell the stories of the thousands and thousands who live with disability, pain, terminal illness and who love life. People who need assistance to live, not die, as we all do.
The law must not be changed. Nor should our conception of compassion which motivates us to help people not kill them. If we discard the absolute value of every human life into something subjective and economically relative to how we choose at any given time to treat the sick, the elderly, the disabled and our own ageing selves, humanity is on trial. A trial with new legal rules and new sentencing powers, which will inevitably cement the postcode lottery health inequalities we already inflict on the vulnerable.
Assisted suicide is not evolutionary - it is regressive, discriminatory, lethal and cheap.
Note: We understand that the vote on the Scottish assisted suicide bill will now be delayed due to the British election.
Rachel McKenzie is a writer and lobbyist at magpiecentral.wordpress.com