It's time to think about how we will implement assisted dying in Scotland - Shona Elliott

The Scottish parliament is in the midst of debating legislative changes that could allow Scots to choose to die for the first time.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

If the Assisted Dying of the Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill lodged by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam MacArthur is passed, it will give some terminally ill adults the right to end their own lives.

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This is not the first time Holyrood has broached this divisive issue.

Assisted dying remains a divisive issue in Scotland.
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Assisted Dying: Scots remain divided over controversial bill to introduce assist...

Similar bills were brought forward by the independent MSP Margo MacDonald and Green MSP Patrick Harvie, but both measures failed to get enough political support and did not become law.

With high profile politicians, such as Ruth Davidson, now publicly supporting a bill they previously opposed, there appears to have been a significant shift in political opinion which could help push Mr MacArthur’s bill through.

Even if this bill fails to pass, I think it is extremely likely that Scotland will legalise assisted death for some terminally ill adults in the near future.

Statistics suggest that Scots have long been in favour of this and that it’s politicians - not public opinion - who have delayed changes to legislation.

According to Dying in Dignity Scotland, 87 per cent of the country support assisted dying for terminally ill adults. This includes people of faith and people with disabilities.

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This is not to say we have arrived as an unanimous moral standpoint on the issue, many still stand firmly opposed to its introduction.

Assisted dying is an inherently emotive topic and I do not believe our society will ever stand in universal agreement.

However, looking at overall public opinion in Scotland as well as trends across the Western world, I find it hard to imagine Scotland's future healthcare system without some form of assisted dying.

With that in mind, I wonder if it would not be more prudent to move our attention away from inconclusive ethical debate and instead turn discourse towards tackling the numerous practical hurdles of implementing a model of assisted dying in Scotland's healthcare system.

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