More than three-quarters of Scots support assisted dying legislation - survey

The poll found at least a two-thirds majority in every constituency and region in Scotland, with a 78% average overall support.

More than three-quarters of Scots support assisted dying legislation – survey STV News

More than three-quarters of Scots are in favour of assisted dying legislation, a survey by campaign group Dignity in Dying has found.

The poll found at least a two-thirds majority in every constituency and region in Scotland, with a 78% average overall support.

It comes as the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill, proposed by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, is published in the Scottish Parliament.

The proposals would enable mentally competent adults with a terminal illness to be legally provided with assistance to end their lives if they wish to do so.

The poll, conducted for campaigners by Opinium, surveyed 4,132 Scottish adults between February 9 and March 15.

It showed 15% of respondents were against the proposals.

However, support was joint highest in Mr McArthur’s Orkney constituency, with 82% in favour, alongside Shetland.

Significant support was also found in North East Fife and Banff and Buchan at 80%, while Moray, mid Fife, Inverness and Nairn reported 79% support.

Opponents of the proposals state the poll does not reflect the change in attitudes to assisted dying once the dangers are highlighted.

Scottish Parliament constituencies across Glasgow had the lowest level of support, with Glasgow Shettleston recording 66%.

First Minister Humza Yousaf’s Glasgow Pollock constituency was also among the lowest, at 67%, equalling support in his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow Southside seat.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s Glasgow region had 69% support for the Bill, according to the poll.

Both Mr Yousaf and Mr Sarwar have expressed concerns about the Bill.

Mr McArthur said: “It has been clear for many years that an overwhelming majority of the public support a change in the law to allow more choice for dying people at the end of life.

“This latest polling certainly underscores that, while also confirming that this support is to be found right across the country.

“I may be biased, but I am particularly pleased to see Orkney and Shetland at the top of the list when it comes to levels of support for assisted dying.

“It is increasingly clear that the current ban on assisted dying is failing too many dying Scots at the end of life, despite the very best efforts of palliative care.

“Too often, it leaves patients facing difficult and traumatic deaths that impact not just them, but those they leave behind. We can and must do better.

“In keeping with similar laws we see operating successfully in the US, Australia and New Zealand, my proposals would be robustly safeguarded to ensure the process works as intended.

“I hope that as they consider the provisions of my Bill, MSP colleagues will look at the compelling evidence supporting a change in the law, as well as the strong support amongst their constituents, and ensure we pass legislation that better meets the needs of dying people here in Scotland.

“Once we’ve passed this Bill, we’ll wonder why on Earth it took us so long to do so.”

Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, which opposes the Bill, said support falls below 50% once the harms are presented.

He said: “The lack of effective safeguards has always been one of the key issues with assisted suicide and euthanasia. In countries which have legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia a culture of death becomes established. There are real risks to vulnerable people that they will be pressured to end their lives prematurely.”

He continued: “Scotland has a proud history of helping the most vulnerable and that extends to those at the end of their lives. We should be helping people to live through investing in better palliative care not trying to facilitate premature death.

“Ultimately, the only poll that matters is that of 129 MSPs and in a free vote they have twice previously voted against legalisation and I am confident that will happen again this time.”

Dr Ashley Frawley, spokesperson for the Better Way campaign, said: “We need to be clear that people’s decisions on “assisted dying” will be influenced by a wide range of factors, arising from their personal lives, and society more widely. 

“There is great potential for injustice in this. The way a terminally ill person experiencing healthcare inequality, poverty, addiction, homelessness, or loneliness approaches ‘assisted dying’ will be wholly different to the way a person not facing these challenges approaches it.

“Ultimately, we would see disadvantaged people opting for ‘assisted deaths’ because they feel that life isn’t worth living any more. Others in society would choose not to end their lives because they are well-off, supported and valued enough to choose this path.

“The introduction of ‘assisted dying’ will compound existing inequalities – and no amount of good will, or legislative drafting, would prevent this.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in