Scotland’s former health secretary Jeane Freeman backs assisted dying bill.

Ms. Freeman, who stepped down as an SNP Member of Scottish Parliament at May’s Holyrood election, has said she backed the draft bill from Scottish Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur.

The Proposed Assisted Dying for Terminally ill Adults (Scotland) Bill aims to introduce the right for an assisted death for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Scotland.

In an interview, Ms. Freeman, who was Scotland’s health secretary from June 2018 to May 2021, said she thought that most Scottish people supported the move if adequate safeguards were put in place.

Previous attempts to change legislation in regards to assisted dying in Scotland have never been passed in parliament.

Those who argued against a change in the law have said it would undermine the process of palliative care and that the risks to individuals are too high by putting pressure on vulnerable patients to choose the option.

Scottish Member of Parliament Liam McArthur introduced his new draft bill in June and a Parliamentary consultation on its contents is currently taking place.

So far, the Scottish government has not said if it will support the bill, although during a previous attempt in 2015 individual MSPs were allowed to vote as they wished.

Protesters and campaigners against the plans have argued that the “vast bulk of countries” do not allow people to end their own lives. Many argue that vulnerable people might feel under pressure from relatives or health care professionals, leading to a “burden” mentality that causes them to choose to end their life “for the wrong reasons”.

Campaigners also argue that assisted dying would fundamentally alter the doctor-patient relationship and devalue disabled people’s lives.

Currently, assisted dying or euthanasia is legal in seven countries, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands and Colombia.

Assisted dying is now also legal in several states in the USA, including California and Washington DC, allowing Doctors to write patients a prescription for the fatal drugs but insisting that a healthcare professional must be present when they are administered.

Supplying the means for assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1937. The country’s Dignitas clinic is well known as a destination where many terminally ill choose to travel to end their life.

Ms. Freeman argues that the proposed assisted dying bill had safeguards to protect the process from abuse.

Before entering into politics, she had various roles linked to the health care service and has argued for years that even in societies with the best palliative care, many individuals were still in a situation where they wanted to have the power to end their life.

Current Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf said he had “sympathy and empathy” for people who want the law changed but his concerns over the level of safeguards and potential for abuse means that he does not support the proposed assisted dying bill.

“My own personal view is that I’m not persuaded by the proposals, particularly because I’m not sure that we have stringent safeguards in place,” he said.



Ashton Perry

Ashton Perry is a former Birmingham BSc graduate professional with six years critical writing experience. With specilisations in journalism focussed writing on climate change, politics, buisness and other news. A passionate supporter of environmentalism and media freedom, Ashton works to provide everyone with unbiased news.