Bereaved Scottish woman issues tearful plea to MSPs to back assisted dying

A woman whose father died of pancreatic cancer after months of "physical and mental pain" has issued a tearful plea to MSPs to back assisted dying in Scotland.

Joanne Easton, 40, said her view of Scotland as a progressive country would be "blown to smithereens" if proposed legislation was not passed in Holyrood.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur is bringing forward a Bill that would allow terminally ill and mentally competent adults to end their lives.

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It is the third attempt to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

Joanne Easton, left, with her mother and father Robert, right, who died last year. Picture: contributed
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Sir Patrick Stewart urges MSPs to back assisted dying in Scotland

Two doctors would need to confirm a person was terminally ill and mentally competent, and there is a suggested reflection period of 14 days.

Mr McArthur argues the Bill contained "strong safeguards" and did not go as far as previous plans.

He said he believed MSPs would back it when it was introduced early next year, making Scotland the first place in the UK to legalise assisted dying.

Mr McArthur hosted an event at the Dynamic Earth visitor attraction in Edinburgh to mark one year since he announced his intention to bring forward the proposals.

Addressing the event, which was attended by MSPs from across the political spectrum, Ms Easton said she was “proud of being Scottish”.

She said: "My view of Scotland is of a progressive, compassionate country, and if MSPs vote against this Bill, my view of Scotland is blown to smithereens."

Ms Easton, from Wishaw, said her father Robert was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020 and died in June last year at the age of 69.

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Dignitas was discussed from the "very outset", she said, and her father wanted to "spare his family the pain and trauma of witnessing his pain and trauma".

She said watching his illness progress was "heart-breaking" and his pain was "clear for everyone to see".

Robert, a former firefighter and motorbike enthusiast, even asked Ms Easton and her boyfriend to investigate methods of suicide, which she said was "awful".

He survived for a few months after stopping treatment, but Ms Easton insisted: "I feel his heart had died a long time before his body did."

She told the event: "My dad was in mental anguish as well as physical pain for every remaining day of his life, and all he wanted was to be able to make the choice to end his life at a time of his choosing and without causing any further trauma to his family."

Ms Easton added: "Thankfully my dad's passing was peaceful and it was relatively pain free.

"But the brutal fact remains, a lingering death in a hospice after so many months of physical and mental pain just wasn't how he wanted to go."

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Visibly emotional, Ms Easton insisted MSPs "have the chance to rewrite stories like my dad's".

She added: "When you are considering this legislation, please hold my dad in your mind.

"Think about the families across Scotland suffering before you cast your vote."

Earlier, attendees watched a special video message from Sir Patrick Stewart, the Star Trek and X-Men star, in which he insisted terminally ill people should not be forced to end their lives in pain.

He said: "I am asking members of the Scottish Parliament to support Liam McArthur's Assisted Dying Bill."

Campaigners and some MSPs have raised concerns about assisted dying.

Labour's Pam Duncan-Glancy, a permanent wheelchair user, previously called the proposals "dangerous for disabled people".



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