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by Andrew Learmonth
21 June 2021
Assisted dying bill lodged: disabled MSP brands proposal 'dangerous'

Assisted dying bill lodged: disabled MSP brands proposal 'dangerous'

Labour’s Pam Duncan Glancy has warned that plans to bring in assisted dying in Scotland would be “dangerous for disabled people.”

The MSP, who is a wheelchair user, said she had serious reservations about the Members Bill being lodged by Lib Dem Liam McArthur today. 

Holyrood has previously twice rejected euthanasia legislation, but there is now significant cross-party support for a change in the law. 

A Panelbase poll published by The Sunday Times yesterday found that assisted dying was backed by 72 per cent of voters in Scotland, with 14 per cent opposed and another 14 per cent unsure.

Unlike the previous attempts, the Orkney MSP’s proposal would only permit assisted deaths for those with a terminal diagnosis.

McArthur said: “I have long believed that dying Scots should be able to access safe and compassionate assisted dying if they choose, rather than endure a prolonged and painful death.

“The blanket ban on such assistance is unjust and causes needless suffering for so many dying people and their families across Scotland.”

His bill will go out to consultation in the autumn and will come to a vote in the chamber next year. It will need the support of 65 MSPs to pass. Last time it was rejected by 82 votes to 36.

The proposed legislation would allow a mentally competent adult with a terminal illness to end their life using a lethal medication, taken in the presence of a healthcare worker.

The patient would have to sign a declaration before two independent witnesses saying they have voluntarily reached the decision. Two doctors would also need sign the declaration to confirm the person is fatally ill and has the mental capacity to make the decision. The patient would then have a two week cooling off period would follow,

A working group backing the legislation includes former Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, and Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater. 

In an open letter, the MSPs said: “The law does not work and should be replaced with a safe and compassionate new law that gives dying people the rights they need to have a good death. It is incumbent upon us to provide a solution.”

Glasgow MSP Duncan-Glancy has tweeted her opposition to the plans: “I am deeply worried about this. Disabled people do not yet enjoy our right to live equally. I’d far rather we had a right to live enshrined in law, long before we have a right to die. Until all things are equal, this is dangerous for disabled people.”

She added: “We need to make sure living is better for disabled people than death. That means properly funded care, accessible housing, equal access to health care & jobs and so on. My fear is that, bluntly, all of that costs more & the government haven’t committed nearly enough money to it.”

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