Assisted dying critics have warned The Great British Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith that legislative proposals in Scotland will put the “vulnerable at risk of coercion”.
The TV judge, who is patron of the Dignity in Dying charity, will join Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur in Holyrood on Tuesday in support of his Member’s Bill on legalising assisted dying for terminally ill Scots.
The proposals would give mentally competent adults with a terminal diagnosis the right to end their life if requested.
But Scots would not be able to opt for the procedure for any other reason, and safeguards would include independent assessments by two doctors.
Dame Prue will share her reasons for supporting the law change after watching her brother dying from bone cancer.
She took part in a documentary – Prue and Danny’s Death Road Trip – alongside her son, the Tory MP Danny Kruger, where they debated their opposing views while meeting people with lived experiences.
But ahead of her visit, Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing – a campaign spearheading the opposition to Mr McArthur’s proposals – said: “The legislation of assisted suicide and euthanasia will put many vulnerable people at risk of abuse and coercion.”
He said the Bake Off judge, while very much in favour of a law change, used her documentary to express she was “conflicted” by how the policy had evolved in Canada, where people report being offered the medical assistance in dying (Maid) because they cannot access the proper support they need, for example, in housing, mental health or poverty.
Dr Macdonald continued: “Put simply, it’s impossible to have a safe system of medicalised killing and MSPs should reject Liam McArthur’s dangerous and discriminatory proposals.”
However, Mr McArthur said he was “pleased” Dame Prue was able to speak of her support for the Assisted Dying Bill, which will be presented to the Scottish Parliament in the coming months.
He said: “Prue has personal experience of the issue after watching her brother’s bad death from bone cancer and the documentary she made on assisted dying with her son earlier this year was a must watch.
“Parliament staff are working hard to finish the text of my Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults Bill and it will soon be up to MSPs to make their minds up.”
Glaswegian Tina McCaffrey, who is now chief executive of Totara Hospice in New Zealand where terminally ill patients can access assisted dying, will join the Bake Off judge on the panel, as well as Luke Johnston-Smith, who has shared his journey with terminal blood cancer.
Mr McArthur said he hopes the trio can “demonstrate the importance of giving Scots a choice over how they die”.