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Scots to have their say on how we die as Public Consultation on Assisted Dying Bill launches today

Today, Thursday 23rd September, Liam McArthur MSP for Orkney will launch a public consultation on his proposals for a new Members Bill which seeks to change the law on assisted dying in Scotland.

The consultation, which will run until 22nd December 2021, details the proposals for a bill seeking to legalise assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Scotland.

Responding to the launch of the public consultation, Ally Thomson, Director of Dignity in Dying Scotland said,

“The time has come for a new law on assisted dying. The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland support a change in the law and now Scots can have their say on the vitally important issue of how we die.  The current blanket ban on assisted dying does not work, it creates heartache and injustice for so many families and it is time it was rewritten.”

“Liam McArthur MSP today sets out proposals for a new law which is safe, compassionate, robustly researched and rigorously proven to work. The proposals detail how Scotland can move forward progressively by providing our dying citizens with what they need – excellent care and the choice of an assisted death for those whose suffering is beyond the reach of that care and who face a prolonged, painful death.”

“I’m calling on everyone who believes that dying people and their loved ones deserve better than an outdated and unfair law that restricts choice and causes needless suffering to get involved and share their views – sending a clear message to MSPs that it must change.”


Notes to Editors

For more information, polling tables or interview requests, please contact Ally Thomson at alyson.thomson or 07766112463.

Consultation Information

The consultation opens on Thursday 23rd September 2021 and will run until Wednesday 22nd December 2021.

An on-line copy is available on the Scottish Parliament’s website ( under Parliamentary Business / Bills / Proposals for Members’ Bills and also at

British Sign Language (BSL) and Easy Read versions have also been produced and can be accessed at

Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Scotland Bill Consultation

The Consultation details the proposals for a bill seeking to legalise assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Scotland.

Safeguards included in the consultation proposals include:

  • Two doctors independently confirm the person is terminally ill, establish that the person has the mental capacity to request assisted dying, and assess that the person is making an informed decision without pressure or coercion
  • Two doctors ensure the person has been fully informed of palliative, hospice, and other care options
  • The person signs a written declaration of their request, followed by a period of reflection
  • The person must administer the life-ending medication themselves; It would continue to be a criminal offence to end someone’s life directly
  • Every assisted death would be recorded and reported for safety, monitoring, and research purposes.

England and Wales

A private members bill on assisted dying has received its First Reading in the House of Lords, paving the way for a debate on prospective legislation – the first in Westminster for more than five years.  Baroness Molly Meacher formally introduced the bill with a full Second Reading taking place on 22nd October 2021.

International developments

In the US, assisted dying as an option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in their final months of life is legal in 11 jurisdictions: Oregon (1997), Washington, Vermont, Montana, the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine and New Mexico (April 2021).

In Australia, assisted dying is a legal choice for terminally ill citizens in Victoria (June 2019), Western Australia (December 2019), Tasmania (March 2021) and Queensland (September 21). A bill in South Australia was approved by the Upper House in May 2021 and has now been passed by the Lower House.

New Zealand is set to legalise assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent citizens by November 2021, following a public referendum on the End of Life Choice Act in October 2020.

In Ireland, an assisted dying bill is currently undergoing pre-legislative.