Patrick Stewart urges MSPs to support bid to legalise assisted suicide

The Star Trek and X-Men star said terminally ill people should not be forced to end their lives in pain.

Sir Patrick Stewart has urged MSPs to back new legislation (David Parry/PA)

By Katharine Hay, PA Scotland reporter

Sir Patrick Stewart has urged MSPs to back new legislation in Scotland that would legalise assisted dying.

The X-Men and Star Trek actor gave a video message saying terminally ill people should not be forced to end their lives in pain.

“Dying people should not be forced to take drastic measures travelling to another country to take their own life,” he said.

“They should have the choice to die at home on their own terms.”

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Earlier, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur, who is bringing forward a Bill that would allow terminally ill and mentally competent adults to end their lives, said the “tide is turning” in favour of assisted suicide.

His proposed Assisted Dying Scotland Bill, which he hopes to formally introduce early next year, will be the third attempt to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

Mr McArthur wants to introduce assisted dying as a choice for adults who are terminally ill and mentally competent, and says there are strong safeguards built into his Bill.

However, the MSP said “this issue is one that divides opinion and gives rise to strong emotions on both sides”.

He pledged to “take a pragmatic approach, listening to those who have concerns or questions as well as those who are strongly supportive”.

He said he believed MSPs will back it, making Scotland the first place in the UK to legalise assisted dying.

Sir Patrick, who has previously campaigned on the cause, urged people in his video message to sign Dignity in Dying’s petition to bring forward legislation to allow assisted dying for adults who are terminally ill and have mental capacity.

“Dying people in Scotland should not be forced to die in pain against their wishes,” he said.

“I am asking members of the Scottish Parliament to support Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying Bill.”

A summary of the consultation responses is expected to be published when Holyrood returns after the summer recess, with Mr McArthur saying changing the law to permit assisted dying is “an opportunity that must be grasped”.

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