A report published by the Scottish Parliament today has shown strong support for assisted dying. 78% of respondents to a consultation supported the Assisted Dying Bill proposed by Liam McArthur MSP, providing a strong encouragement for MSPs to vote in favour of the proposed new law.
Humanists UK has welcomed the findings, and called for the UK Parliament to look again at the law. The Bill is being backed by its sister charity, Humanist Society Scotland.
McArthur will today lodge his proposal for a Bill – the third attempt to legalise assisted dying in Scotland. The proposed law would allow mentally competent, terminally ill adults to end their lives.
The consultation on the Bill saw more engagement than any Member’s Bill consultation in the history of the Scottish Parliament. Of the 14,038 responses received, 10,687 (76%) were fully supportive and 244 (2%) partially supportive.
Many respondents gave first-hand experiences of living with, and caring for, family, friends, and patients with a terminal illness who had experienced great pain and suffered what was often described as a ‘bad death’.
Many also believed a wider group of people should be able to choose an assisted death than the intended definition would allow for, such as those with potentially longer-term degenerative conditions, such as various neurological conditions.
21% of respondents opposed the proposal. The most common reason given for this was a fundamental religious belief.
Responses from individuals included a wide variety of current and retired health care professionals and workers (nurses, doctors, social workers, palliative care workers, policy, and administrative staff), religious figures, and legal professionals.
Many respondents believed the proposal was an improvement on previous attempts to legislate for assisted dying and were fully satisfied with the proposed safeguards set out in the consultation document.
Humanists UK Assisted Dying Campaigner Nathan Stilwell said:
‘The Scottish people have overwhelmingly shown their support for legalising assisted dying. Over 10,000 people took time out of their day to share their incredibly personal and painful experiences of death. Many respondents believed that the Bill should allow anyone who is incurably, intolerably suffering to have choice at the end of their lives.
‘Scotland is moving yet further ahead of the rest of the country. In England and Wales, there hasn’t been an inquiry into assisted dying since 2004, and the most recent Assisted Dying Bill ran out of time. How far is the UK Parliament willing to fall behind the rest of the world?
‘The international evidence shows that it is possible to give people choice, dignity, and autonomy in how and when they die, while still protecting the vulnerable. Assisted dying laws are the hallmark of a compassionate society and should be a basic right.’
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at email@example.com or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
A summary of the views expressed in the campaign can be found on page 7 of the summary.
Read more about our campaign to legalise assisted dying in the UK.
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.