The prospect of assisted suicide has long been on the agenda across the UK and in particular in Scotland where votes have been held on the issue. The Campaign for Dignity in Dying has long argued for the law to change to allow for assisted suicide in the right conditions.
In 2015, the Scottish Parliament voted down the Assisted Suicide Scotland Bill, 82 – 36, according to the BBC. That same year the UK parliament also voted against implementing the right to die, as reported by the BBC.
But almost three years later, a new poll asked respondents the following question:
“Currently, it is illegal for a doctor to help someone with a terminal illness to end their life. Would you support or oppose changing the law to allow people who are terminally ill to request medication from a doctor to end their own lives.”
Strikingly, an overwhelming 74% of respondents said they would support the legalisation of assisted suicide with a doctor compared to just 10% who said they disagreed.
Support was strong from voters of all parties, both genders, all age-groups and different social-grades. There is clearly significant support for a change to the law in Scotland. The question is whether such a change will come in this parliament. Furthermore, if Scotland - and the rest of the UK - moves towards allowing assisting suicide, there will continue to be a vocal minority who oppose it on moral grounds.
As for concerns regarding abuse of the system or families feeling pressured, any moves towards legalisation will need to have a strong set of checks and balances.
This is a controversial subject that needs talked about sensibly, but with such strong support across different sectors of Scottish society, one wonders how long until it becomes an issue once more.