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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
24 January 2023
Nicola Sturgeon undecided on assisted dying legislation

Nicola Sturgeon during a press conference on Scottish Government issues, at St Andrews House, Edinburgh | Alamy

Nicola Sturgeon undecided on assisted dying legislation

Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she is still undecided on whether she will support assisted dying legislation

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur is expected to introduce a members’ Bill on the issue this year, after winning the right to do so in October 2022. This would be the third attempt to pass assisted dying legislation at Holyrood.  

The First Minister said she found the issue “very difficult” and has sympathy with some concerns put forward by critics. She said her views have changed on the issues but are “not yet finalised”.  

If the legislation was passed, it would permit terminally ill adults who are mentally competent to end their lives. Two doctors would have to confirm a person was mentally competent and terminally ill. There is also a suggested 14-day reflection period. 

Speaking at a Scottish Government press conference at St. Andrews House in Edinburgh, she said: “My views are not yet finalised on the legislation. I think like many people, I suppose find it a very difficult issue and find it one in which my views have changed.” 

The First Minister was responding to an article by Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, who opposes changing the current law. He wrote in The Scotsman that he was “very concerned” about the potential of assisted dying legislation. 

Dr Greenshields also wrote about his concerns that the potential change to the law could be used as a cost-saving measure in the health service. 

He said: "Given the pressure on healthcare resources, we are also very concerned that assisted dying could be seen as providing an opportunity for cost-saving."

Responding to these comments, the First Minister said: "I don’t believe it would ever be seen as cost-saving. But I do have a lot of sympathy because I think it is what has been behind my votes against in the past." 

She added: "I will consider very, very carefully all of these issues before I come to a final view, which I haven’t yet arrived at."

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