Scottish Assisted Dying Bill Published – Humanists UK Comment

The Assisted Dying Bill Scotland has been published today. Humanists UK welcomes the bill and hopes it passes the next stage, but urges politicians not to ignore people like Tony Nicklinson, who would not be eligible for the proposed law.

Currently, the Bill is limited to only people who are terminally ill, which has a legal definition in Scotland. The Bill would only be available to residents of Scotland for the past 12 months. Two independent doctors would be needed to sign off on the assisted death, and they must have explained all feasible alternatives to the patient’s condition, including pain relief, hospice support and other palliative care packages.

Nathan Stilwell, Assisted Dying Campaigner for Humanists UK, said:

‘Assisted dying is rightly dominating the news agenda recently, due to the swathes of jurisdictions seeking to give people the right to a dignified, compassionate death. This is a huge step forward for Scotland and a correct and compassionate step too. Dying people shouldn’t be forced to suffer.

‘However, this current bill does ignore people who aren’t terminally ill but are suffering from an incurable condition without any chance of relief. Conditions like Multiple Sclerosis aren’t always classed as terminal but can cause absolutely unbearable suffering. These people deserve the right to at least choose.’

The bill has been prompted by Humanist Society Scotland and Friends At The End – Humanists UK’s Assisted Dying Coalition partners.

The move marks the first time assisted dying has been considered in Scotland since 2015. A 2019 opinion poll shows that 87% of Scottish people back proposals to change the law19 people from Scotland had an assisted death at Dignitas since 2002.

This move comes during a massive wave of campaigning across the British Isles, and around the world, on assisted dying. Last week, assisted dying proposals were lodged in Jersey, and a report in the Republic of Ireland recommended a change in the law. Next month, a committee will report back to the Isle of Man’s parliament, which will subsequently vote on a change of the law.

Last month the UK Health and Social Care Committee released its report on assisted dyingThe report stated that end-of-life care can and has improved in jurisdictions that have legalised it.