A JEWISH figurehead has sparked controversy by suggesting that legislation that would legalise assisted suicide is comparable to racist Nazi laws that paved the way for the Holocaust.


Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, spoke out against the Assisted Suicide Bill which is currently making its way through Holyrood in an evidence session with MSPs.

He referred to Holocaust Memorial Day to make "a point about practicalities rather than principles" and added: "It's now a well-known cliche that the Holocaust didn't begin in Auschwitz, it ended in Auschwitz.

"In terms of principle, it began with the belief that some lives are not worth as much as others, and that is precisely what we are faced with here."

Others representatives of faith communities also made their strong opposition to the proposed law clear. If it is voted through, it would see patients with degenerative conditions able to end their own lives with the help of a deadly prescription from a doctor.

Dr Salah Beltagui, a member of the Muslim Council of Scotland's standing committee on parliamentary affairs, told MSPs that the legislation would create a "culture of suicide".

"If that's an option, that will be a very attractive one to many young people especially who are in depression or in a very bad way," she said.

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church of Scotland's church and society council, warned that "once that legislative genie is out of the bottle you can't get it back."

She added: "We cannot safeguard the most vulnerable, the old person in a home who feels that he or she is spending all of her or his children's inheritance and it would be a really good, honourable thing to agree to assisted suicide for all these good reasons - but they don't want to go."

Earlier, Holyrood's health committee heard evidence from Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a professor of palliative medicine, who said courts rather than doctors should adjudicate on eligibility as she highlighted a number of problems with the Bill.

Green MSP Partick Harvie, who is taking the Bill forward following the death of its original author Margo MacDonald, said: "It's precisely because all our lives are of equal worth that each of us should know we have the right to be in control and to have our wishes respected.

"The proposals include a range of safeguards to ensure that the decision to make use of these powers would come solely from the individual concerned, and from no one else."