Assisted suicide bill delayed after 'unprecedented' response

The Orkney MSP is now looking to bring it through the Scottish Parliament early next year.

Assisted suicide bill delayed after ‘unprecedented’ response, Liam McArthur MSP says iStock
McArthur’s plans would make it legal for doctors in Scotland to assist terminally ill patients with suicide.

The MSP who pledged to bring forward assisted dying proposals this year has said that a bill will be introduced at the start of next year, instead.

Liam McArthur MSP has blamed an “unprecedented” response to a consultation on his plans as a reason for the delay.

The amount of responses received all deserve fair consideration, according to him, and he will be taking the time required.

McArthur’s plans would make it legal for doctors in Scotland to prescribe patients who have terminal illness a lethal cocktail of drugs to enable them to commit suicide.

His proposal argues that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should be able to access “safe and compassionate dying if they choose, rather than face a prolonged and painful death”.

The MSP had expected to introduce the Bill this year, but is now looking to bring it through the Scottish Parliament early next year.

McArthur’s Bill would require two doctors to sign off on the patient being terminally ill, as well as establishing the patient has the mental capacity to make the decision and is not being coerced.

The doctors would also ensure the patient was aware of all palliative and hospice care options available, while the patient would be asked to sign a written declaration followed by a period of reflection.

McArthur said: “The consultation on my Bill received an unprecedented level of response and it is right that I take the time to consider all of the responses received.

“I am hopeful that I’ll be in a position to report back on the public consultation and finalise plans to lodge the Bill when Parliament returns after the summer recess.

“It is clear that there is strong public support for a change in the law and growing support too amongst my MSP colleagues across all parties.

“Nevertheless, it is important that the Bill I bring forward is as robust, considered and compassionate as possible as it begins its journey through the scrutiny process.

“My Bill simply opens up the option for adults with a terminal diagnosis and mental capacity to choose a dignified end on their own terms. Such a change is long overdue and I look forward to steering this Bill through Parliament next year.”