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Orkney MSP launches consultation on Assisted Dying Bill proposal

The public will have a chance to say on proposals on assisted dying legislation in Scotland.

A public consultation on a proposal to change the law on assisted dying in Scotland has been launched by Orkney’s MSP.

The consultation, which will run until December 22, details the proposals for a bill seeking to legalise assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Scotland.

The move follows on from countries such as Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada who have introduced similar rulings in recent years.

The British Medical Association (BMA) also recently announced that it will drop its opposition to a change in the law on assisted dying in favour of a stance of neutrality.

The vote followed the largest ever survey of medical opinion on assisted dying last year, which found a majority (61 per cent) of members disagreed with the BMA’s longstanding opposition to law change on assisted dying.

Launching the consultation, Liam McArthur, said he had from many dying people and grieving families who have been “failed” by the current ban on assisted dying.

“I have watched other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand put new laws in place to ensure their citizens can have a peaceful and dignified death and I believe that the time is right for Scotland to look again at providing our dying people with more choice at the end of life.

“The consultation sets out a blueprint for how we can do this safely and compassionately.”

Safeguards included in the consultation 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.

Mr McArthur continued: “The proposed law will work alongside palliative care and apply only to terminally ill, mentally competent adults. It features strong safeguards that put transparency, protection and compassion at the core of a prospective new law.

“How we die is an issue for our whole society and I am keen that this public consultation encourages a nationwide discussion on what we need to do to give dying people the help and support they need to have a good death.

“I encourage people to respond with their views and experiences.”

The consultation survey is available at complete here.
An online copy of the consultation document is available on the Scottish Parliament’s website here.
British Sign Language (BSL) and Easy Read versions have also been produced and can be accessed here.