Scotland assisted dying consultation: 76% support legalisation

Posted: Mon, 12th Sep 2022

Scotland assisted dying consultation: 76% support legalisation

A "clear majority" of respondents to a consultation on legalising assisted dying in Scotland support the proposals, including the National Secular Society.

According to a report on the consultation published last week, 76% of respondents were "fully supportive" of the proposed bill, which would enable competent adults who are terminally ill to be provided with assistance to end their life at their request.

The NSS backed the proposals in November and was quoted several times in the report.

The consultation generated over 14,000 responses. This is the highest number received to date for a consultation for a proposed Member's Bill in the Scottish Parliament.

Under the proposals in the consultation by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, registered healthcare practitioners would be allowed to provide life-ending medication to a patient who has requested an assisted death in writing and who has been diagnosed as terminally ill by two doctors.

There is currently no specific legislation that governs assisted dying in Scotland. However, assisting the death of another may give rise to liability for either murder or culpable homicide.

A final proposal will be lodged in the Scottish Parliament with a view to introducing a Member's Bill if it secures sufficient support.

Religious opposition to assisted dying

Less than a quarter of respondents (21%) were "fully opposed" to the proposal, with a further 0.4% partially opposed.

The report said: "One of the most common reasons given for opposing the proposal was a fundamental belief, often founded in a particular religion, that human life is sacred and must not be purposefully ended under any circumstances".

The majority of organisations which responded to the consultation were fully opposed to the proposal. Most of these were either specifically religious organisations, or organisations clearly linked to a particular religion.

This is in contrast to the individual members of the public who responded, over 80% of whom supported the proposals.

NSS: Reform on assisted dying needed "as a matter of urgency"

NSS head of campaigns Megan Manson said: "That this consultation received an unprecedented number of responses reveals how strongly the public feel about Scotland's laws regarding assisted dying. And the overriding feeling is that those laws aren't working.

"The overwhelming support for the proposed bill allowing assisted dying as a choice for the terminally ill must be heeded, and the laws reformed as a matter of urgency."

"The majority of organisations opposed to the bill are religious in nature. We support the democratic right of all people to contribute to this debate. However, the over-representation of religious groups and the special status granted to religious groups currently impose a disproportionate level of influence.

"Our laws must protect individuals to ensure other people's religious beliefs are not imposed on them and limit their choices and autonomy."

Image: truthseeker08, Pixabay

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