A poll commissioned by Humanist Society Scotland, Dignity in Dying Scotland and Friends at the End (FATE) shows that more than three quarters of Scots (76%) want the Scottish Parliament to debate assisted dying after the Parliamentary elections in May. Additionally two thirds (66%) wish to see a commitment to introducing assisted dying in the political parties election manifestos.
The poll comes as preliminary results from New Zealand’s assisted dying referendum, the world’s first nation-wide vote on the topic show that New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly (65.2%) in favour of legalising assisted dying. New Zealand’s Parliament passed the End of Life Choice Act in 2019, and it will now become law in a years’ time. Today’s result means that in New Zealand terminally ill, mentally competent adults in their final months of life can request assistance from a medical professional to end their life at a time and place of their choosing.
Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland, said:
It’s clear from these most recent results that the Scottish public expect Parliament to give dying people an individual choice on their care after the elections in May. While other issues may dominate political parties and commentators, assisted dying remains a key priority of the wider population.
The cruel fact remains that individuals are continued to be denied choices at the end of their life in Scotland. Yet those rich enough and well enough are able to access such options by travelling abroad at great personal expense. This must change.
Ally Thomson, Director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, said:
Today’s poll with overwhelming support for the Scottish Parliament to get on with introducing a safe and compassionate assisted dying bill alongside with the introduction of new laws in New Zealand makes it clear that assisted dying is the next urgent rights based reform for Scotland. We have excellent palliative and end of life care, yet every week 11 Scots will die a bad death in unbearable pain and suffering.
As more countries legislate for assisted dying we ask that Scots politicians join them in showing leadership on delivering the rights that our dying citizens so desperately need. Scots are asking for their political parties to make commitments in their manifestos and for their MSPs to take action in Parliament. For dying people and their loved ones throughout the country this is not just an election issue – it is the reality of their lives and deaths and they are looking to the Scottish Parliament to deliver.
Amanda Ward, CEO, FATE said:
It has been five years since Margo MacDonald introduced a Bill to legalise assisted dying in the Scottish Parliament – a move she was described as ‘brave’ for. It transpires that she was in fact a pioneer, with over 150 million people worldwide now having access to assisted dying. MSPs should harbour this increasing momentum, reassured that the public is behind them and change the law. At a time when our mortality is being confronted daily, Scots are not shying away from the end of life, but instead want their MSPs to show leadership and give them the rights and choices that they deserve.
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