Three quarters in favour of Scottish assisted dying bill following consultation

Plans to introduce a bill to legalise assisted dying in Scotland has been overwhelmingly backed following an extended consultation.

More than 76 per cent of the more than 14,000 respondents were fully supportive of the proposal which would allow terminally ill and mentally competent adults to end their lives.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP, Liam McArthur, announced he will today lodge his proposal for a Bill; the third attempt to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

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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.

Scotland would be the first part of the United Kingdom to legalise assisted dying if the plans are backed by MSPs.

Former independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who died from Parkinson' s in 2014, sought to take the previous two assisted dying bills through Holyrood, but the move was rejected.

Mr McArthur told how during the consultation he had “heard from dying people who would very much like to have this choice available to them as their illness progresses”.

Liam McArthur MSP will lodge his assisted dying bill today.

Without legislation to permit assisted dying, he said people could face “a series of unimaginable choices”. He said that his proposals could give them “peace of mind in their final months knowing that if they need it when the time comes they can have a peaceful death that is right for them”.

The MSP continued: “I have also been particularly struck by many harrowing accounts from those who witnessed their loved ones endure a bad death.

“They sent a powerful message that, even with excellent palliative care, the option of an assisted death would have made such a difference in terms of reducing unnecessary suffering.

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“A safe and compassionate assisted dying law is a law that’s time has come.”

He added: “I am pleased to be lodging the final proposal for the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Members Bill in the Scottish Parliament today.

“I am confident of receiving the necessary signatures from my MSP colleagues which allows me to proceed with the drafting of a Bill I hope to introduce to Parliament next year. I then look forward to taking the Bill through its Parliamentary journey.”

Safeguards within the bill include a requirement for doctors to ensure the patient was aware of all palliative and hospice care options available, while the patient would be asked to sign a written declaration followed by a period of reflection.

The patient would have to be able to administer the life-ending drugs themselves. All assisted deaths would be recorded for safety, monitoring and research purposes

The proposals already have the backing of the Humanist Society of Scotland, whose chief executive Fraser Sutherland said: “Humanism is rooted in the idea that all humans must have autonomy over their bodies, and the right to an assisted death has been something that we have supported and campaigned for across three attempts to change the law in Scotland.

All episodes of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, are out now.

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It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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