Our Last Rights campaign is focused on giving people at the end of their life control, dignity and choice. At the heart of the campaign is our Last Rights Charter which details four key rights that the signatories to the Charter believe everyone at the end of their life should have.

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The Four Last Rights

1. The Right to be in control

2. The Right to die at home

3. The Right to palliative care

4. The Right to an assisted death

The Last Rights Charter

The Right to be in control

In 2014 Compassion in Dying found that over 80% of the public wanted to be in control of their care should they lose mental capacity. Despite this, only 4% had an advanced decision document to record their wishes. The charter would recognise people’s right to be in control of their care and treatment, and place a duty on public bodies to ensure access to assistance to record such wishes.

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The Right to die at home

In 2008, research by Marie Curie showed that over 65% of people would like to die at home if they had a terminal illness. Despite this wish, a University of Auckland study found 59% of deaths in Scotland occurred in a hospital, one of the highest rates in the world. While for some conditions it will not be possible to discharge patients when they are dying, for many others, it is possible. The charter would give dying people the right to be at home where there is no significant barrier.

The Right to palliative care

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has highlighted the need for dying individuals to have the right to access palliative care as a fundamental human right. It is estimated by Hospice UK that around 11,000 people a year in Scotland are dying without access to palliative care who may have benefited from it. The charter would give everyone who wishes to access palliative care in Scotland a right to do so.

The Right to an assisted death

Humanists defend the right of each individual to live by his or her own personal values, and the freedom to make decisions about his or her own life, including their death, so long as this does not result in harm to others. The charter would encode the right to an assisted death, for those who have a clear and settled wish.

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A Humanist Approach

The Charter takes a rational approach to ensuring that everyone will have key rights afforded to them to ensure they can have the good death they deserve to be able to choose. At the heart of the charter is an understanding and appreciation that each individual will choose what is the right path for them at the end of their life. It also holds respect for this wish and realises what is right for one person may be different for another. This new suite of rights would give individuals at the end of their life the choice and power over their own care, treatment and death.

They may choose to use some of the rights but, equally, they may choose not to. The importance is giving the power to the individual to make that choice for themselves.

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