MSPs join together to call for assisted suicide law

Senior politicians from across the political divide have joined together in an effort to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland.

Figures including acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw, former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie have written in The Sunday Times Scotland saying the legislation change is needed to help provide dignity in death for people who face “the most terrible suffering”.

The nine MSPs, including SNP and Liberal Democrat members, highlight the case of Geoff Whaley, an 80-year-old with motor neurone disease who recently ended his life at a Dignitas facility in Switzerland.

In a letter to the newspaper, they claim that 80% of people in Scotland support a change in the law.

They write: “For some of our colleagues, we understand that there are issues around how we develop safe, robust law. For others, there are concerns that this diminishes the role of palliative care.

“It is our view that with a more considered debate, and careful thought, we can craft a law that addresses those concerns and draws on the experience of other countries and regions around the world.

“The uncomfortable truth is that we are failing the people we met in parliament this week. We cannot go on pretending the status quo is acceptable – it is not.”

Previous attempts to change the law on assisted dying in Scotland have failed.

The politicians at Holyrood now hope to have a formal consultation on assisted suicide towards the end of this parliament.

If introduced, Scotland could become the first part of the UK to bring in such legislation.

The other MSPs to sign the letter were the SNP’s George Adam and Gail Ross; Labour’s Mary Fee; the Lib Dems’ Alex Cole-Hamilton and Liam McArthur; and Conservative Michelle Ballantyne.