Former Liberal Democrat leader and ex deputy first minister Jim Wallace, now the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, has spoken out in opposition to a Bill to legalise assisted dying.

The Bill was introduced by a fellow Lib Dem in June, Liam McArthur MSP, and is now out for consultation.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness, who led the Scottish Liberal Democrats from 1992 to 2005, spoke in his role as Moderator.

He said: “The Church supports the existing law and protections around the end of life, and is opposed to a change to allow legally assisted suicide, or any other form of assisted dying.

“The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has consistently and repeatedly expressed its opposition to any change in the current law, which precludes assisted dying in all its forms. This opposition is based on our Christian faith.”

HeraldScotland: Lord Wallace says the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has consistently and repeatedly expressed its opposition Lord Wallace says the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has consistently and repeatedly expressed its opposition

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His concerns were echoed by church leaders and faith groups across Scotland who are calling on MSPs to reject the proposed assisted dying Bill for Scotland and say it could lead to pressuring vulnerable people into ending their lives for fear of being a burden.

Among those at the forefront of the initiative are the country’s Catholic hierarchy, The Christian Institute and the leaders of Evangelical churches across the nation.

The group which represents thousands of Christian healthcare professionals has also spoken out against the contents of the Bill which will be considered at Holyrood in coming months by MSPs.

They have urged the Scottish Parliament to reject the proposals in the Bill submitted Mr McArthur.

In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “Legalising assisted suicide, which is contrary to the dignity of the human person, would put immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people including those with disabilities to end their lives prematurely, for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others.

“Once passed, incremental extensions and the removal of protections and safeguards are inevitable and have happened everywhere legislation has been passed."

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The Christian Institute, which has close to 10,000 members in Scotland, said legalising assisted dying would pressure vulnerable people into ending their lives for fear of being a burden.

They added: "The choice to die very quickly becomes a duty to die. So-called safeguards in other jurisdictions have evaporated, often staggeringly quickly. And the drugs given to people to kill themselves can cause intense suffering.

"True compassion for those who are terminally ill means valuing their lives, giving them hope, and ensuring that high quality palliative care is available to everyone who needs it.”

HeraldScotland: Church and faith groups are opposed to the assisted dying BillChurch and faith groups are opposed to the assisted dying Bill

The Evangelical Alliance Scotland argued legalising assisted dying would lead to more suffering, not less.

While Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland said: "MSPs have rejected this change twice before for these reasons, and many besides them. It must do so again with Mr McArthur’s proposals. There are many ways to help suffering people at the end of life. Giving them the means to commit suicide isn’t one of them.”

Mr McArthur MSP said the level of response to the consultation was unprecedented and shows that assisted dying is an issue that matters to people across the country.

He said: "While it will take some time to validate and process responses, it appears there is strong support for a change in the law and a desire to see the Scottish Parliament take action.

"When I launched the proposals last year I said that how we die is an issue for our whole society and that the consultation was in effect a nationwide discussion on what we need to do to give dying people the help and support they need to have a good death.

"There is clearly an appetite for that discussion and I look forward to continuing it with the public and within the Parliament over the months ahead.

"This bill is about giving dying people the help and support they need to have a good death."