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Scottish Parliament to consider bill on assisted dying

Legislation to introduce assisted dying for terminally ill people in Scotland has been published at Holyrood with members of the Scottish Parliament behind it insisting there is “compelling evidence” to support the move.

If the bill passes, Scotland would be the first part of the UK to offer terminally ill people assistance to end their lives.

Liam McArthur said he is confident the Scottish Parliament will back his legislation when it comes before it for a vote adding there are “robust safeguards” included in the bill.

A consultation by Mr McArthur ahead of publication of the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill found 76% of the 14,038 people who took part fully support such a change.

Opponents of the legislation have said they fear it would see the lives of people who are ill or disabled being “devalued”.

With Holyrood likely to vote on the proposals later this year, it will be the third time MSPs have considered the issue with two previous attempts to change the law rejected.

The bill sets out plans to give people over the age of 16 with an advanced terminal illness the option of requesting an assisted death.

The person must have the mental capacity to make such a request, which would have to be made voluntarily without them being coerced.

Two doctors would also have to be satisfied with the patient’s condition and that they have not been pressurised into their decision.

Only people who have lived in Scotland for at least a year would be allowed to make such a request.

The bill also sets out a mandatory 14-day “reflection” period between a qualifying patient making a request and being given the necessary medication.

At this point, a medical professional would make a final check on the patient’s capacity.

Mr McArthur said the bill includes robust safeguards, similar to those which have been safely and successfully introduced in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, “where they continue to enjoy strong public support”.

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