School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

End of life ethics experts back Assisted Dying Bill for Scotland

Philosophers and ethical experts, including Edinburgh Professors Michael Gill and Michael Cholbi, announce their support for the Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Scotland Bill today.

The announcement, supplemented by a written statement of support was made at an event hosted at Paterson’s Land on the University of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Campus.

Representing the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and University of St. Andrews, the Philosophers’ Consortium on Assisted Dying in Scotland (PCADS) comprises a group of leading academics in ethical philosophy that believes the Bill, proposed by Liam McArthur MSP, represents a positive step to improve how people die in Scotland.

This conclusion was drawn on the group members’ experience as philosophers with research expertise in end of life ethics, as well as extensive first-hand contact with physicians, dying patients, and their families.

The group understands that for many, the best life will not turn out to be the longest possible life. For a handful of patients, the best life — and best death — may be achieved by collaborating with their physicians to shorten their lives with the help of a life ending medication.

Medical advances now make it possible for people to live longer than ever before. But as many individuals and their families discover, even the very best medical care cannot always alleviate the suffering or indignity of dying: Sometimes the longest possible life does not result in the highest quality life. MSP McArthur’s Bill to legalise assisted dying in Scotland acknowledges this reality and will permit consenting terminally ill adults to end their lives on their terms. The Bill is similar to legislation in the United States, including effective safeguards to ensure capacity and protect vulnerable groups.

Professor Michael Cholbi, University of Edinburgh

As I finalise the Bill that will go before the 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. The group has considered the evidence on both the need for a new law on assisted dying and how it works in practise; 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.

Liam McArthur, MSP

The full statement of support is available below:

Related links