Assisted dying bill to be put to Scottish Parliament
The legislation would introduce the right to an assisted death for terminally ill, mentally competent adults
As reported by the BBC, a new assisted dying bill is set to be put to Scottish Parliament on Monday, 21st June. The legislation would allow those who are mentally competent but terminally ill to decide whether they would like to continue living or die.
Similar to euthanasia, death is brought about by a carefully carried out and humane medically assisted procedure. However, all forms of assisted dying are currently illegal in the UK under the Suicide Act of 1961 and previous attempts to get the bill passed in Scotland have failed.
A cross-party steering group of MSPs, led by Scottish Lib Dem Liam McArthur, have outlined their support of the bill in an open letter. The bill will be lodged at Holyrood next week with a consultation on its contents is expected to take place sometime in the autumn.
We know from growing international evidence that assisted dying can be made to work safely & effectively. There’s long been overwhelming public support. Confident now strong support @ScotParl across all of the parties
— Liam McArthur MSP (@Liam4Orkney) June 20, 2021
Understandably, the proposed bill is one that always causes controversy, with many arguing that the legislation would undermine palliative care and that the risks are too high - claiming it would put pressure on vulnerable patients.
Despite McArthur assuring that the bill contains a number of safeguards - including several criteria for qualification for assisted dying such as requiring not just a terminal illness but a certificate of mental competency - others a less convinced.
Michael Veitch, a parliamentary officer at Care for Scotland, suggests there can be "no adequate safeguards" and that terminal prognoses are "fraught with uncertainty" and, as a result, "will affect every person living with a terminal illness, fundamentally alter the doctor-patient relationship, devalue disabled people's lives, and undermine wide efforts to prevent suicide."
The subject has always remained a flashpoint as most of those who are unfortunate to experience a loved one deteriorating from a terminal illness just want to end their pain and suffering, as well preserve their memory untouched by a difficult end to life.
On the other hand, beyond obvious religious factors and current legal obstacles, many people do not believe the NHS and public healthcare should be allowed to facilitate someone taking their own life.
Ally Thomson, director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, has said that it is the blanket ban of assisted dying that is most problematic.
Pointing to places like the USA, Australia and New Zealand where it is legal in some parts, she said: "The evidence and research from those places shows that this is a safe choice, a compassionate choice, it is not in any way an alternative to palliative care".