Assisted Dying Bill introduced to the Scottish Parliament

21 June, 2021

New assisted dying legislation has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. It has been prompted by Humanist Society Scotland and Friends At The End – Humanists UK’s Assisted Dying Coalition partners, and Dignity in Dying Scotland. Humanists UK has welcomed the news.

Under the proposed law, doctors will be able to help terminally ill adults to end their life. Its promoters include a cross-party group of 12 MSPs. They include Jackson Carlaw, the former Scottish Conservatives leader. The move marks the first time assisted dying has been considered in Holyrood since 2015. Recent polling shows that 86% of Scots want Holyrood to debate assisted dying. 87% back proposals to change the law.

The news follows shortly after it was announced that the assisted dying campaigner Paul Lamb, who previously took his case to the Supreme Court, had died.

Speaking ahead of its introduction, Liam McArthur MSP, who is bringing forward the Bill, said: 

‘I have long believed that dying Scots should be able to access safe and compassionate assisted dying if they choose, rather than endure a prolonged and painful death.

‘The current blanket ban on such assistance is unjust and causes needless suffering for so many dying people and their families across Scotland. If you have reached the limits of palliative care and face a bad death, none of the current options available to you in Scotland represents an acceptable alternative to a peaceful, dignified death at home.’

Welcoming the news, Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said: 

‘Having the ability to choose how, where, and when we die is a fundamental freedom and the hallmark of a compassionate society. Nine in ten people favour a change in the law, as well as half of all doctors. Even with the best possible palliative care 11 Scots still suffer a bad death every week. In this context, it is not right to deny those who are terminally ill or incurably suffering the option of a legal, safe, and dignified assisted death. As with other major social reforms, we hope that by taking initiative on this issue Scotland will lead the way and the rest of the UK will follow. Assisted dying reform is long overdue, and we do everything in our power to help secure this much-needed change in the law.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read more about our campaign to legalise assisted dying. 

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