At present it is a criminal offence in Scotland to assist in anyone’s death. This week’s Changing Minds Series listens in on a meeting organised by the SNP Commonweal Group along with Alyson Thomson of Dignity in Scotland and Josh Mennie a campaigner for a change in the law on assisted dying.

You can listen to it here:

Since this meeting Liam McArthur, MSP, has lodged the Assisted Dying Bill to the Scottish Parliament. The Bill has cross-party support in Holyrood. And Parliament set up a public consultation process which will report back soon.

There is substantial public support for a change in the law:

87% of Scots support assisted dying for terminally ill adults

54% of GPs are supportive or neutral to change the law on assisted dying assisted dying

86% of people with a disability support a change to the law

Source: Dignity in Dying Scotland

Assisted dying is not an easy issue to address

People express valid concerns about any change to the law. The speakers in the meeting talked about some of the most common concerns. Alyson spoke about previous attempts to change the law in Holyrood, and then told us about the current campaigning by Dignity in Dying. Josh Mennie talked about his experience if nursing his grandmother as she was dying. They then answered questions from the meeting.

Some of the questions asked were:

  • What kind of model of assisted dying would be ideal for Scotland and how would it work?
  • Do you foresee a Dignitas facility in Scotland? 
  • Netherlands have had dignity in dying in place for over 30 years. So there are templates for legislation out there, why have Scottish Parliament been unable to do this?
  • What is the current legal situation at the moment, would I be liable to prosecution if I helped someone to die?
  • How can you assure a law would not be widened to apply to other categories of ill people? 
  • Why do you thinkMargo MacDonal was unable to get parliament to approve her Bill?
  • How does the proposed legislation define terminal and how imminent a terminal illness is?
  • Might a citizens’ assembly might be a good way of settling this issue?
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