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Scottish First Minister changes her mind on right-to-die legislation

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared she is “more open” to legalising assisted dying after being moved by the plight of terminally ill Scots. Seven years ago she opposed the idea of a right-to-die law, but this month she told the Record she has no “concluded view” on the latest proposals.

The last year introduced bill on assisted dying has attracted more public responses than any other in the history of the Scottish Parliament. The bill is understood to have inspired more than 10,000 people to voice their opinions on the emotive subject. Sturgeon was among those politicians who opposed this Bill, arguing that she had not been convinced.

Speaking exclusively to the Record, she revealed a significant shift in her thinking on the controversial subject, saying: “I haven’t come to a concluded view this time. “I’ll be really honest, it’s an issue I really struggle with. And I will have to come to a view on it before Parliament votes on it again, and I will. I think my mind is more open to it than it perhaps has been in the past. And like everybody else, I am always very moved by people whose – themselves or family – whose terminal illness has meant they’ve been in a position where they think they perhaps would have wanted to have the right to assisted dying.”

She added: “Equally, and this is the thing I’ve always struggled to get over, is my concern about how would you ever put sufficient safeguards into a system, where you can be certain that people – elderly people in particular – didn’t almost feel a sort of pressure in some circumstances, or where it could be abused? The other thing which I feel strongly about, but this actually applies whatever route we take on assisted dying, is that allowing people to have good deaths through good palliative care is really important, and I think it’s vital we don’t lose focus on that.”

She concluded: “I’m still thinking very, very deeply about this issue myself. And, you know, I will continue to talk to people, to consider all of the arguments, before coming to a view myself on how I would vote.”

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