Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur is examining the plans, backed by Dignity in Dying Scotland, Friends at the End and the Humanist Society Scotland
A consultation has been launched on legalising assisted dying in Scotland.
Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur has begun work on legislation to allow assisted dying for those who are terminally ill and mentally competent.
It is the third time an attempt has been made to legalise assisted dying in Scotland, with previous cross-party efforts voted down in 2010 and 2015. The member’s bill has cross party support and is backed by Dignity in Dying Scotland, Friends at the End and the Humanist Society Scotland.
McArthur said: “In my time as an MSP I have heard from many dying people and grieving families who have been failed by the current blanket 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.”
The bill proposes a number of safeguards, including having two doctors independently confirm that the person wishing to end their life is terminally ill and has the mental capacity to request assisted dying, and is making an informed decision “without pressure or coercion”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) recently announced that it will drop its opposition to a change in the law on assisted dying in favour of a stance of neutrality.
Ally Thomson, director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, said: “The time has come for a new law on assisted dying. The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland support a change in the law and now Scots can have their say on the vitally important issue of how we die. The current blanket ban on assisted dying does not work, it creates heartache and injustice for so many families and it is time it was rewritten.”
“Liam McArthur MSP today sets out proposals for a new law which is safe, compassionate, robustly researched and rigorously proven to work. The proposals detail how Scotland can move forward progressively by providing our dying citizens with what they need – excellent care and the choice of an assisted death for those whose suffering is beyond the reach of that care and who face a prolonged, painful death.”
“I’m calling on everyone who believes that dying people and their loved ones deserve better than an outdated and unfair law that restricts choice and causes needless suffering to get involved and share their views – sending a clear message to MSPs that it must change.”
Jim Wallace, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said the church will oppose the plans.
He said: “While reaffirming our privilege to care for those approaching the end of their lives and supporting the provision of appropriate care, the General Assembly has consistently and repeatedly expressed support for the status quo with regards to the law which prohibits assisted dying in all its forms.
“The current societal protection of life is clear and to move away from this would involve more than a simple modification of the law and would represent a 'crossing of the Rubicon' from which there would be no return.
“This would have profound effects on how society regards those in our communities who are vulnerable, not just the elderly and infirm but also those with disabilities and those who are unable to speak up to protect themselves.
“Our position is rooted in our Christian faith and whilst we recognise that this is a debate which is not entered upon lightly by those sincerely promoting change, we remain opposed to any proposals to amend the law around assisted dying in all its forms.”