​Assisted dying law will allow Scots the right to a good death - Alex Cole-Hamilton

Liam McArthur is convinced his bill will pass at HolyroodLiam McArthur is convinced his bill will pass at Holyrood
Liam McArthur is convinced his bill will pass at Holyrood
My father-in-law slipped away from us six years ago, on a morning not unlike this one.

After decades grappling with Multiple Sclerosis, he succumbed to a kind of liver cancer that was mercifully painless and took him very swiftly after diagnosis. We’d managed to get him home from hospital and when it was clear the end was coming, my wife and her siblings moved back into the house to support their parents through the final week of his life.

I would go out there whenever I could, it wasn’t a chore, it was lovely. They had created a bubble around him filled with love and light and laughter. We took turns to sit beside him, to rub moisturiser into his arms, dab his lips with a wet sponge and to tell him stories, jokes and news of the outside world. There was such unexpected joy in those days and then one morning he was gone, in a room full of flowers, bathed in warm spring light.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He was taken from us too early, and after many years of illness, but it was a very gentle passing. If I could choose the manner of my death- it would certainly be that. But recently I’ve been brought hard up against the visceral reality that we don’t get to choose and all too many people are denied a good death and depart this world in pain and in distress.

Tomorrow my friend and Scottish Liberal Democrat colleague, Liam McArthur MSP will introduce to the Scottish Parliament a Bill that if passed, will make assisted dying available to adult patients living in Scotland, who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, who have mental capacity and possess the physical ability to take the pharmaceutical preparation needed.

He has worked incredibly hard to find the appropriate balance of rights and safeguards, learning from the best practice of those progressive countries and regions of the world that have gone before us.

It is a Bill that is sufficiently narrow in scope to prevent abuse and to ensure that it is only available to those who are certainly going to die as a result of their condition and who have their mental state and motivations fully assessed by two clinicians. It will also allow anyone in the health service, to absent themselves from the process on grounds of conscience.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This isn’t a substitute for palliative care- which I think should be available to everyone who needs it, but rather another, final tool in the box. I want to know that if I’m dying in agony, beyond the reach of pain relief or I know that’s coming, then I’ll have the right to say ‘this far and no further’ and leave this life in dignity. Indeed, many patients in countries where assisted dying is legal never actually take the prescribed drug. It’s just a comfort to them to know that it’s there should their pain become too unbearable.

Endings matter, in stories and in life. But we have rights that protect every aspect and moment of our life save one, and that is our departure from it. Liam’s Bill will rectify that. It’s why it enjoys the support of an overwhelming percentage of the public and if passed, will allow people who have lived this life on their terms to leave it on their terms as well.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.