Ethical experts from leading Scottish universities have backed assisted dying proposals for those with a terminal illness.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur’s Member’s Bill would allow competent terminally ill adults to request assistance to end their lives.

The Philosophers’ Consortium on Assisted Dying in Scotland, comprising of ethical philosophy professors at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews universities, said the proposals would give vulnerable people “control” over their decision-making.

Joseph Millum, of St Andrews University, said the proposals have “strong safeguards” to protect against misuse.

Mr McArthur’s proposed assisted dying Bill is currently being drafted, with the final text to be made available later this year.

It would be available to those aged 16 and over who have a prognosis of no longer than six months to live, deemed to be of competent mind and able to administer and ingest the medication themselves.

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Two independent doctors would have to determine the patient met the criteria before being allowed to proceed.

Dr Millum said: “Even with the best that modern medicine can provide, many patients suffer terribly at the end of life.

“That suffering is made worse by their lack of control. This Bill would give adults with terminal illnesses the power to control how their lives end.

“It would give doctors who are willing to be involved another means to help their patients."


Liam McArthur signing a pledge card in support of his Assisted Dying Bill

He added: “And it has strong safeguards against misuse. Decades of experience from around the world show that assisted dying can be legalised safely and practiced responsibility.

“It’s time that Scotland gave patients the right to assistance in dying.”

In response, Mr McArthur said: “As I finalise the Bill that will go before Parliament, I very much welcome the input and support of such experts on end-of-life ethics.

“The Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill will work alongside palliative care to offer compassionate choice to dying people and put safety and transparency in place where none currently exists.

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“The group has considered the evidence on both the need for a new law on assisted dying and how it works in practice; evidence I look forward to sharing further with my MSP colleagues.

“The majority of the Scottish public are in favour of changing the law on assisted dying and I’m pleased to add this expert group to their number.”

However, faith leaders held a meeting in Holyrood last week to voice their strong opposition to the proposals.

A joint statement from leaders of the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and the Scottish Association of Mosques said the Bill “inevitably undermines the dignity of the human person”, adding that “common humanity” would be lost by its introduction.