Liam McArthur wins right to bring forward Assisted Dying Bill to Scottish Parliament

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has earned the right to introduce a Members’ Bill to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill people in the Scottish Parliament.

His proposal is supported by 36 out of the 129 MSPs.

Last month Liam  published the outcome of his public consultation on the proposals.  Out of 14,038 responses, 76% of individuals who responded expressed full support with a further 2% partially supporting a change in the law.

Mr McArthur will now work with the Scottish Parliament’s Non-Governmental Bills Unit to draft the actual bill which he hopes to introduce in Parliament next year.

Liam said:

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all MSPs who have put their names behind my proposed change in the law. The support among colleagues has been deeply heartening, and demonstrates the growing recognition that there is a need to end the ban on assisted dying in Scotland.

“The Scottish public has long been ahead of the parliament on this issue. The public consultation on these proposals, published last month, demonstrated that there is strong and passionate support for offering people more choice at the end of their life.

“I now look forward to working with colleagues in parliament to bring forward a safe, robust, and compassionate Bill. I remain committed to a process which carefully considers the views of the public, organisations and healthcare professionals, as well as international experience, to craft legislation which is tightly drawn and contains strong safeguards.

“Thanks once more to MSPs who have given support so far, as well as to all those who have taken the time to engage with me and indeed other MSPs over recent months on this issue to share their views.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Helen Dudden 11th Oct '22 - 10:53am

    I’m concerned as a disabled person about this one. DNR is another view.

  • Hi Helen. I think this is important legislation and I hope it passes, but it’s absolutely essential that all concerned views are listened to with potential issues and weaknesses fully considered and addressed as part of that process. We must absolutely be respectful of different points of views, and be very careful that language does not inadvertently give the impression that illness or disability means life is not worth living etc.

    In particular, there is a danger that those of us who have discussed or campaigned on a difficult issue for some time forget that our own position didn’t appear fully formed in our heads. At least not for those taking it seriously. It’s not enough to provide reassurance, or even give a long list of why everything will be OK. We need to give everyone else the time to work things through and not treat questions as an inconvenience.

    There will continue to be consultation and I hope you will get involved.

    I think most people are rightly wary that there is the potential for this kind of legislation to get it wrong, but I am very mindful that without this legislation, many are left to suffer against their will. Their current alternative can be to take their own life before they are ready, but while they still can.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Oct '22 - 11:49am

    Fiona, many if us who have serious health issues have felt very low.
    My concern is just that.
    There has been in the past those who feel disability is not for them.
    Later, I have a zoom meeting on Accessible Homes, many waiting many years for a suitable home.

  • You make good points Helen. As much as I believe in this legislation, it cannot be done in isolation.

    Although this legislation is intended to be relevant for only a small proportion of those with terminal illness, and should be about giving those people agency, it’s understandable that there are concerns that it could be treated as a sign that society deems some lives less worth living than others. It would be easy for me to say that you shouldn’t worry as it’s not about disability, and yet years of underinvestment in appropriate housing, social care and a very long list of other things that would make a big difference to quality of life is bound to colour this kind of debate and must be considered.

    Why should people trust us when we say that we respect the lives of people with disabilities if we aren’t doing what is reasonably practical to make those lives better?

    The quality of palliative and end of life care is more directly relevant, and we need to find a way to ensure that we allocate enough resources to do the best we can for everyone, and to keep on investing in research that will allow us to get better at it.

  • While not for a moment diminishing Helen’s views, I am fully behind this bill and think it is long overdue.
    I’m not disabled Helen but I do have a permanent medical condition which one day might make life intolerable, and if that happens I want to reserve the right to make whatever decision I choose about my own life, and not be denied that right by someone else.
    Incidentally, Liam MacArthur is one of the nicest, most gentle people you could ever hope to meet. His bill really does take all feelings into account and is full of safeguards. Indeed it is probably a bit TOO full of safeguards for my own taste, but it is at least an important step in the right direction.

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