Scottish Greens co-convenor Lorna Slater has said she will back proposed legislation to introduce assisted dying in Scotland – but called for respectful debate on the topic.

Ms Slater is the latest Scottish political party leader to intervene in the debate on a new Bill that would see Scotland became the first UK nation to introduce the end of life option.

Humza Yousaf, Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar have all said they do not support assisted dying while former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this week she was "swaying against" voting in favour of the measure.

Ms Slater, however, said the issue is something she "believes is important" as a "matter of principle in terms of bodily autonomy".

Her fellow co-convenor Patrick Harvie led a previous attempt to pass an assisted dying bill at Holyrood, taking up the mantle from SNP MSP Margot Macdonald who drafted the bill in 2012.

Liam McArthur, the Liberal Democrat MSP who laid the current bill, has said the political mood has changed in favour of assisted dying and “robust safeguards” have been included in the proposals.

Ms Slater said: "It is something that I believe is important.

"I think it's a matter of principle in terms of bodily autonomy.

"I myself have not been touched by this. My parents are both still going, and I haven't had the experience of watching a loved one die.

"I haven't had the experience myself of experiencing a terminal illness, so I'm really interested in hearing people's lived experiences during that debate so that I can understand the issues more."

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Proposed legislation would make it lawful for a terminally ill person who meets the criteria to receive medical help to end their life.

Those requesting an assisted death must be aged 16 and older and have lived in Scotland for at least 12 months, as well as having a GP registered in Scotland.

Two doctors would have to be satisfied the patient's conditional was terminal and that the decision to end their life was being taken independently.

There would also be a 14-day reflection period between the request and receiving the medication.

The death certificate would not record suicide but rather the terminal illness, in order to help reduce the stigma of assisted dying.

For those opposed to assisted dying, Ms Slater's native Canada has become a salutary tale of how the eligibility criteria might be controversially widened.

When medically assisted death (MAID) was first introduced, it was permitted only for terminally ill Canadians but in 2019 a court ruled that restricting access to that category of applicant was unconstitutional.

Federal lawmakers then expanded the existing laws to include people with chronic conditions and have been under pressure to expand further still to include mental illness.

Canada now has one of the highest rates of assisted dying in the world, with 4.1% of deaths aided by doctors.

Ms Slater, however, pointed to the fact the proposed Scottish legislation is based on the model used in Oregon, in the US, and in Europe.

She said: "I have not followed Canadian politics but I absolutely intend to support Liam McArthur's bill.

"I realise that the Scottish approach is much more like the European approach to this rather than the North American approach.

"And I think that's something that I'm interested in learning more about. It's going to be serious and have hard going debates.

"But I am looking forward to those debates because I'm looking forward to hearing more perspectives."

Mr Harvie described being "flattered and slightly awed" when Margot McDonald, who died on April 4, 2014, asked him to be the second member in charge of her bill.

He said: "She was very aware at that point that she probably wasn't going to be there to see it through.

"And that's why she needed to ask somebody to take on that role.

"I felt that as a very heavy responsibility to her personally, but also to the issue - to the very, very many people who'd worked very hard repeatedly to try and bring proposals to the Scottish Parliament."

The bill failed to gain a majority and was defeated.

Mr Harvie added: "I do get the sense that there's been a shift. Not necessarily in public opinion, because I think public opinion has always been ahead of politicians on this.

"But you do get the sense that there's been a shift in political landscape and a willingness to talk seriously about actually making this happen, and we need to be genuinely open to the concerns that people do have.

"No one should want anyone ever to feel that they're under pressure to make a decision that they wouldn't want to make genuinely on their own terms."

The MSP pointed to statistics showing that a majority of people who apply for and are granted assisted suicide end up not exercising that right.

He said: "Knowing that they're in control is the most powerful thing.

"I think we need to make sure that we support every witness and every member of the public who wants to share their personal perspective on it, to do so and to hear and genuinely listen to all of those viewpoints.

"But I do have the feeling that there's more of a shift in the political landscape in the direction of supporting the proposals.

"So I wish him well with it."

Asked whether Scots can have confidence in the Scottish Government to draw up and the Scottish parliament to scrutinise legislation, given concerns around the robustness of several recent pieces of legislation, Mr Harvie said: "I hope so."

He added: "Notwithstanding, we will no doubt have political disagreements on some things, as all parties do.

"Liam McArthur is the kind of person as an individual who does have a very balanced and a very calm approach to a great many issues.

"He's not a divisive, firebrand sort of character on anything, so I think he's a good pair of hands for this particular piece of legislation to be in and he seems to be going out of his way to make sure that this is a respectful and a calm and a thoughtful debate, which is what it deserves."