Nicola Sturgeon has said she is deeply conflicted on the matter of assisted dying and may vote against new legislation moving through the Scottish Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur is championing a bill that would allow terminally ill adults aged over 16 to receive assistance to die if ruled mentally fit to make the decision by two doctors.

The former first minister has voted against previous attempts to legalise assisted dying in Scotland but said she had expected to be persuaded by the arguments this time round.

However, writing today in The Herald's sister paper, the Glasgow Times, Ms Sturgeon said she is swaying against the proposed legislation.

She said: "I have rarely been as conflicted on any issue as I am on this.

"On previous occasions when the matter has come before Parliament, I have voted against.

"I have been determined, this time, to consider the issue afresh, and to consider all the different arguments with an open mind. Liam is to be commended for the thorough and sensitive way in which he is giving Parliament the opportunity to do so.

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"I had expected this time, if I am being frank, to find myself swaying in favour of the legislation.

"I believe that we all deserve as much agency as possible over our own lives and, in theory at least, I understand the argument that this must entail, in some circumstances, the right to decide when to end our lives."

Last week it was confirmed that ministers are to be given a free vote on the new Assisted Dying Bill, it has been confirmed.

A meeting of the Scottish Cabinet discussed Mr McArthur's new bill, which was published on Thursday last week, and it was agreed there would be a free vote on the issue.

It has been widely expected that the cabinet would be allowed to vote with their conscience and without party influence but this was the first confirmation that this will be the case.

Ms Sturgeon does on to say she has been "deeply moved" by accounts of terminally ill people who wish to die at a time of their own choosing and, in response, has tried to image what she might do if faced with the same situation.

She adds: "Can any of us answer this question properly in the abstract, before and until we find ourselves in the situation? And, even if I wouldn’t choose it, does that justify me voting against the right of others to do so?

"Despite my expectations, the more deeply I think about the different issues involved, the more I find myself veering away from a vote in favour, not towards it."

The SNP MSP said she has concerns that the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill may have the unintended consequence of putting pressure on those at the end of their life to choose assisted dying.

Ms Sturgeon goes on to urge constituents with strong views on the matter to contact her.

Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, and Anas Sarwar, the leader of Scottish Labour, have both said in recent weeks they are against the passing of assisted dying legislation, as has Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader.