Assisted Dying

We support the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill

The Time is Now

We have long campaigned for compassionate choice at the end of life, and we are currently supporting the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill. The bill was created with our support alongside our coalition partners Dignity in Dying Scotland and Friends at the End. It is being taken forward by Liam McArthur MSP.

The problem

Repeated surveys show that the majority of the Scottish population support properly regulated legal assisted dying. But in Scotland adults with a terminal illness have no access to legal assisted dying. 

A key humanist belief is that everybody should have agency over their own body and be able to make the choices that best serve them. For this reason we have campaigned for legal assisted dying in Scotland for three decades. 

Currently terminally ill adults in Scotland who want an assisted death sometimes choose to take matters into their own hands. This can result in painful and distressing situations for them and their loved ones, who may risk criminal charges if they are seen to be assisting. Some people spend thousands of pounds to access assisted dying facilities overseas. The rules by which these facilities are governed means that people are forced to choose an assisted death far sooner than they would if assisted dying was legal in Scotland. The majority of terminally ill adults who choose neither option face the risk of a long and painful death, with palliative care, however good, being unable to mitigate all pain suffered at the end of life.

The solution

If the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill is passed into law, terminally ill adults will be able to choose an assisted death. The bill includes 12 robust safeguards that would prevent the coercion of terminally ill people who do not want an assisted death.

Our campaign

The Time is Now to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill adults in Scotland who choose it. Along with our coalition partners Dignity in Dying Scotland and Friends at the End we have worked hard to develop a bill that supports bodily autonomy and the right for terminally ill adults to choose an assisted death. The bill includes robust defences against the potential risks that legal assisted dying could pose to vulnerable people if poorly implemented and monitored. 

Get involved

The public consultation stage of the bill process has passed and the consultation responses show a Scotland that is ready to end the ban on legalised assisted dying.  Liam McArthur MSP has now formally introduced his Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish parliament. The health, social care, and sport committee will now begin scrutiny of the proposals and seek views from key organisations and the general public. We hope that MSPs will get the opportunity to debate and vote on the Bill at Stage 1 before the end of 2024.

The Scottish Parliament debating chamber

Write to your MSP

You can help us by writing to your MSPs telling them that you support assisted dying.

Latest Related Stories

Cartoon showing a family group looking at a sunset over the sea.

Use our guide for responding to the assisted dying consultation

Use our guide for responding to the assisted dying consultation
Cartoon showing a group of people holding up signs and banners that read "Autonomy," "Compassion," and "End-of-life Choice."

Holyrood’s health committee wants to hear from you on Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill

Holyrood’s health committee wants to hear from you on Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill
Liam McArthur surrounded by a scrum of journalists in Holyrood as he launches his assisted dying bill for Scotland.

Disinformation campaign against assisted dying begins

Disinformation campaign against assisted dying begins
Fraser Sutherland, CEO of Humanist Society Scotland, addresses a crowd in a blue suit infront of an HSS banner.

Humanist Society Scotland in the media on assisted dying

Humanist Society Scotland in the media on assisted dying