New assisted dying bill would be fitting tribute for the late Margo MacDonald - Jane Bradley

When Margo MacDonald’s assisted suicide bill was rejected by the Scottish parliament for the second time in 2015, it was a bitter blow for her supporters – and for Ms Macdonald’s family and close friends.

The Lothians MSP had died less than a year earlier, after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for a number of years.

The bill, which Ms MacDonald said would give dignity in death to people with terminal illnesses, was defeated after a Holyrood committee concluded that the bill contained "significant flaws" and opposed its general principles. It was voted down by 82 votes to 36.

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However now, close to a decade on, the mood seems to have changed. Mr McArthur claims that almost nine out of ten Scots support now such legislation – although public support was apparently also high last time round.

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Perhaps more significantly, politicians have spoken out about their change of heart in recent months. In December, then Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she regrets her "mistake" in voting against the bill, describing her decision as the one choice that "eats away" after her 10-year career at Holyrood. “It's time to change the law,” she said, after admitting that experience of people close to her with dementia, as well as her medical experience with IVF, had affected her opinion on the subject.

While Ms Davidson no longer sits in the Scottish Parliament, there is no doubt that support from such a high profile – and well-liked across the political spectrum – politician could have an effect. She is also in support of a bill in the House of Lords. Like last time, it is expected that many parties will offer their members a free vote on the issue, rather than putting forward a stance on the issue.

Internationally, too, the idea has far more widespread support. Assisted dying is legal in a number of countries now including some areas of the US and Australia, as well as New Zealand and Spain, In Ireland, an assisted dying bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny after a majority of politicians voted to progress it in October.

Success for Mr McArthur’s bill would be not only welcome to campaigners and many people suffering from terminal illnesses, but it would, finally, be a fitting tribute to Ms MacDonald’s years of hard work.

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