Scotland moved a step closer to being the first country in the UK to legalise assisted dying, with legislation published at Holyrood.

Liam McArthur, the Lib Dem behind the draft Bill, believes the majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will back the change when it comes to a vote. 

He said his colleagues will “want to look closely at the detail and consider the compelling evidence supporting a change in the law.”

He added: “I’m confident Parliament will back my proposals to give terminally ill adults the choice they need.”

At least 49 MSPs have publicly said they will vote for the Mr McArthur's Bill.

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The draft legislation sets out plans to give people over the age of 16 with an advanced terminal illness the option of requesting an assisted death.

They would have to have the mental capacity to make such a request, which would have to be made voluntarily without them being coerced.

Two doctors would have to be satisfied of the patient’s condition, and also that they have not been pressured into their decision.

Only people who have lived in Scotland for at least a year would be allowed to make such a request. The Bill also sets out a mandatory 14-day “reflection” period between a qualifying patient making a request and being given the necessary medication.

At this point, a medical professional would make a final check on the patient’s capacity.

Mr McArthur said: “This Bill contains robust safeguards, similar to those which have been safely and successfully introduced in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where they continue to enjoy strong public support.

“Our current laws on assisted dying are failing too many terminally ill Scots at the end of life.

“Too often, and despite the best efforts of palliative care, dying people are facing traumatic deaths that harm both them and those they leave behind.

“Polling has consistently shown overwhelming public support for assisted dying, and now I believe that politicians are catching up with where the public has been for some time.”

Some elements of the Bill, such as the regulation of medication used to end the lives of those who request it, may require consent from Westminster as they touch on reserved areas of the law.

Mr McArthur said there have been “constructive” conversations with the Scotland Office on this and he has been encouraged by comments from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer around votes on assisted dying.

He said: “There are similar Bills being taken forward in Jersey and the Isle of Man at the moment, we may not be the first to pass legislation.

“But in a sense it’s not a race. I understand the urgency, particularly for those with a terminal illness this change in the law cannot come soon enough.

“Each legislature will need to properly scrutinise the detail of the legislation to make sure they get the details right.”

READ MORE: Assisted dying bill 'dangerous' says Catholic Church

First Minister Humza Yousaf said his views on the issue had not changed.

Following First Minister’s Questions, he told the BBC he is not currently minded to be “supportive” of the Bill but he looked forward to a “respectful debate”.

A survey by campaign group Dignity in Dying found an average of 78% support for the Bill across Scotland, with the group saying this shows “an unshakeable majority of support” for the change.

However, Dr Gillian Wright, a former palliative care registrar who is part of the Our Duty of Care campaign, spoke out against the proposals.

She said: “The primary danger of assisted ­suicide is that individual lives are devalued by society because they are ill, disabled, confused, or that their contribution to society is perceived to be minimal.

“We are encouraged that ordinary doctors and nurses from across Scotland have joined together to send a definite message to MSPs.

“We do understand that there is suffering at the end of life, but this should drive us as a society not to provide assisted suicide, but instead well-funded, accessible, high-quality palliative care for all.”