Liam McArthur, LibDem MSP for the Orkney Constituency has launched a public consultation on his proposal for a new Members Bill which seeks to change the law on assisted dying in Scotland.
The consultation, which will run until 22nd December 2021, details the proposals for a bill seeking to legalise assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Scotland.
Safeguards included in the consultation proposal include:
- Two doctors independently confirm the person is terminally ill, establish that the person has the mental capacity to request assisted dying, assess that the person is making an informed decision without pressure or coercion
- Two doctors ensure the person has been fully informed of palliative, hospice, and other care options
- The person signs a written declaration of their request, this is followed by a period of reflection
- The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves; It would continue to be a criminal offence to end someone’s life directly
- Every assisted death would be recorded and reported for safety, monitoring, and research purposes.
Click on this link for more information: Assisted Dying Consultation
An online copy of the consultation document is available on the Scottish Parliament’s website here.
British Sign Language (BSL) and Easy Read versions have also been produced and can be accessed here.
Liam McArthur said:
“In my time as an MSP I have heard from many dying people and grieving families who have been failed by the current blanket ban on assisted dying.
“I have watched other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand put new laws in place to ensure their citizens can have a peaceful and dignified death and I believe that the time is right for Scotland to look again at providing our dying people with more choice at the end of life.
“The consultation sets out a blueprint for how we can do this safely and compassionately.
“The proposed law will work alongside palliative care and apply only to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.
“It features strong safeguards that put transparency, protection and compassion at the core of a prospective new law.
“How we die is an issue for our whole society and I am keen that this public consultation encourages a nationwide discussion on what we need to do to give dying people the help and support they need to have a good death.
“I encourage people to respond with their views and experiences.”
Whilst such legal provisions would certainly be a step forward, they will still exclude many patients with certain conditions from benefitting. For example:
‘The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves.’
Some may physically simply not be in a position to do this.
Also: Especially in the isles, we do not have the choice to freely decide which GP we can consult. We are being allocated to the one(s) which are on (or responsible for) the island. This could affect the objectivity of a medical professional’s decision.
So, even if this goes ahead, it will only be a small step towards a freedom of choice, it will still exclude many from making use of the relevant provisions and one still needs a plan B. Personally, I would not want to be monitored or become a research subject and I would certainly not want to be depending on decisions made by a medical professional in matters which should remain my own and very personal decision.
I completed the consultation paper and that was one of the things I also brought up. There are people who would want this option but are unable to seriously think about it because of that clause. It is something that needs to be addressed