Campaign to change the law

Friends at the End supports the right of everyone to have a good death, including the right to die at a time and place of their choosing. Currently, in Scotland, there is no legislation prohibiting or allowing assisted dying. Instead, assisted dying is considered the common law crime of homicide. We aim to change this by legalising assisted dying via our democratically elected parliament.

We advocate for a law that allows a terminally ill person to take life-ending medication themselves. We do not advocate for euthanasia, where someone else, usually a doctor, administers the life-ending medication. Exceptions to this include where the person is unable to self-ingest. To find out more, see Assisted dying.

Friends at the End are currently supporting Liam McArthur MSP with the Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill, which will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in 2024. This Bill aims to legalise assisted dying for adults living in Scotland who have a terminal illness. The definition of terminal illness in Scotland includes no time limit on when death is expected and includes a range of diseases/disorders. 
We work closely with Mr McArthur, a steering group of cross-party MSPs, and our partners Humanist Society Scotland and Dignity in Dying Scotland to make sure that this bill has robust safeguards that protect vulnerable people whilst putting compassion, autonomy and dignity at its heart. 

Our assisted dying model

We believe that medically assisted dying should be available to mentally competent adults with:

  • a terminal illness or an incurable condition
  • no reasonable alternative to relieve their illness or condition
  • a voluntary, persistent request for assistance in dying.

In Scotland, terminal illness is a progressive disease where the consequence of that illness is that death can be reasonably expected – no time limit applies. It includes a wide range of different diseases and individuals may have a single disease or a number of conditions at any one time.

How we campaign for the legalisation of assisted dying

Friends at the End provides research and legal advice on legislation and sponsors the Cross-Party Group on End of Life Choices in the Scottish Parliament. We have supported MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to bring forward three bills, and our employee, Dr Amanda Ward was advisor to the member in charge on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill. Dr Ward is currently serving as Research and Legal Advisor to Mr McArthur on the current proposal. She is recognised as the expert on Scots Law on Assisted Dying both in academia, public policy and with the public – ensuring that this proposal is the most robust, safeguarded, and compassionate law brought to date.

Friends at the End also facilitates local support and campaigning groups and works with like-minded organisations in the third, private and public sectors. Our work sponsoring legal cases such as that of Gordon Ross, Omid T, Phil Newby, and others adds weight to the pressure on legislators to change the law.

How you can support an assisted dying law in Scotland

There are a number of ways you can help with our campaign: