Liam McArthur lodges Assisted Dying Bill

Liam McArthur, MSP for Orkney,  will today lodge a final proposal in the Scottish Parliament for his Members Bill  which would enable assisted dying in Scotland if passed.

A report detailing the responses to the public consultation on the bill’s proposals will also be published. In total, 14,038 consultation responses were received – the highest number of responses received to date for a consultation on a proposed Members Bill.

The report’s findings include:

  • A clear majority of respondents, 76%, were fully supportive of the proposal, with a further 2% partially supportive.
  • Many respondents gave first-hand experiences of living with, and caring for, family, friends and patients with a terminal illness who had experienced great pain and suffered what was often described as a “bad death”.
  • The majority of respondents believe that assisted dying should be available for terminally ill people in Scotland, as it is in other parts of the world, and that a humane society should make provision to spare its dying people from unbearable pain and suffering and allow them the autonomy to legally choose to end their lives in a safe and regulated manner.
  • Many supportive respondents believe the proposal is an improvement on previous attempts to legislate for assisted dying and are fully satisfied with the proposed safeguards. Many believe that the proposal successfully balances the provision of a right to assisted death for competent terminally ill adults with a clear and appropriate set of safeguards built in to every step of the process, together with a right for health professionals involved to conscientiously object.

Liam said:

The public consultation received an overwhelming response and I am grateful to everyone who took the time to engage in this vitally important process.

It is clear that a majority of people who responded are in favour of a new assisted dying law in Scotland and that the choices we have around how we die is an issue that needs addressing.

As well as thoughtful perspectives on how an assisted dying law would work in Scotland, I have heard from dying people who would very much like to have this choice available to them as their illness progresses. People who, right now, face a series of unimaginable choices and would have 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.

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

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 included in the bill proposal include:

  • Two doctors independently confirm the person is terminally ill, establish that the person has the mental capacity to request assisted dying, assess that the person is making an informed decision without pressure or coercion
  • Two doctors ensure the person has been fully informed of palliative, hospice, and other care options
  • The person signs a written declaration of their request, this is followed by a period of reflection
  • The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves; It would continue to be a criminal offence to end someone’s life directly
  • Every assisted death would be recorded and reported for safety, monitoring, and research purposes.
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