The MSP who wants to change the law to allow for assisted dying in Scotland said the “overwhelming” consultation on his plans showed that the majority support such a measure.
A total of 14,038 responses were received in the consultation on Liam McArthur’s bill, the highest number of responses received so far for a membership bill at Holyrood.
Speaking before presenting a final proposal for assisted dying for terminally ill adults (Scotland) on Thursday, the Liberal Democrat MSP said it hoped it could bring legislation to the Scottish Parliament next year.
Mr McArthur, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney, now needs to enlist the support of other politicians in Holyrood before his bill can proceed.
Holyrood has already rejected two attempts to legislate for assisted death, but McArthur insisted it was “a law that the time has come”.
All deaths under the program would be recorded and reported for security, monitoring and research purposes.
Mr. McArthur recounted how during the consultation he had “heard of dying people who would like to have this choice available to them as their disease progressed.”
Without legislation to allow assisted dying, he said people could face “a series of unimaginable choices”. He said his proposals of him could give them “peace of mind in their final months knowing that if they need it when the time comes, they can have a peaceful death that is right for them.”
The MSP continued: “I have also been particularly struck by many heartbreaking accounts of those who have witnessed a bad death of their loved ones.
“They sent a strong message that, even with excellent palliative care, the option of assisted death would make such a difference in terms of reducing unnecessary suffering.
“A safe and compassionate assisted dying law is a law that the time has come.”
We urge Scottish MSPs to support the bill and be on the side of the views of the majority of the Scottish population and to offer safe and legal access to assisted dying in Scotland
Fraser Sutherland, Scottish Humanist Society
He added: “I am delighted to present to the Scottish Parliament today the final proposal for the bill on assisted death for terminally ill adults.
“I am confident of receiving the necessary signatures from my MSP colleagues to enable me to proceed with the drafting of a bill which I hope to present in Parliament next year. I can’t wait to take the bill on its parliamentary journey. “
The proposals already have the backing of the Humanist Society of Scotland, whose CEO Fraser Sutherland said: “Humanism is rooted in the idea that all human beings must have autonomy over their bodies and the right to an assisted death has been something we supported and campaigned for three attempts to change the law in Scotland.
“Today we urge the Scottish MSPs to support the bill and to be on the side of the views of the majority of the Scottish population and to offer safe and legal access to assisted dying in Scotland.”
But Dr Gordon Macdonald, of the Care Not Killing campaign group, which is leading opposition to the bill, said: “Evidence from other countries shows that when assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalized, the promised guarantees. they are quickly removed and the law is extended to include more and more vulnerable people.
“People will be pressured by others to end their lives for fear of being a financial or welfare burden. Depressed people will not receive the adequate psychiatric support they need, and palliative care services will continue to be underfunded.
“This is a very dangerous bill and proponents of a change in the law have failed to address these concerns or even engage in a debate about it.
“We must take care of the people who suffer, not encourage them or provide them with a mechanism to end their life. This is why we support the extension of high quality palliative care to all those who need it and better support for their families. “