NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is minded to oppose a new bill which would legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

The intervention comes after LibDem MSP Liam McArthur’s Assisted Dying for Terminally Ill Adults (Scotland) Bill was published by the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs are likely to vote on the proposals, which would allow terminally ill people to choose to die if they are aged over 16 and cleared by two doctors, later in the year.

In a column for the Glasgow Times, the former first minister said she was yet to make a final decision on the issue, but found herself “veering away from a vote in favour, not towards it”.

READ MORE: Wee Ginger Dug: Assisted Dying Bill wouldn't have helped my husband - but here's why it's still key

Sturgeon, who stepped down as SNP leader in early 2023, wrote: “I have rarely been as conflicted on any issue as I am on this. On previous occasions when the matter has come before Parliament, I have voted against.

“I have been determined, this time, to consider the issue afresh, and to consider all the different arguments with an open mind.”

She went on: “I had expected this time, if I am being frank, to find myself swaying in favour of the legislation. I believe that we all deserve as much agency as possible over our own lives and, in theory at least, I understand the argument that this must entail, in some circumstances, the right to decide when to end our lives.”

“Yet so far, despite my expectations, the more deeply I think about the different issues involved, the more I find myself veering away from a vote in favour, not towards it.

The National:

“I worry that even with the best of intentions and the most carefully worded legislation, it will be impossible to properly guarantee that no-one at the end of their life will feel a degree of pressure, a sense that it might be better for others for them not be here – even if their loved ones try to persuade them otherwise.”

Sturgeon (above) further said she had concerns that the legislation, if passed, may prove to be the “thin end of the wedge”.

The SNP MSP said: “If we normalise assisted dying – if we come to associate dignity at the end of life with choosing to die, rather than being supported to live in as much peace and comfort as possible – then we will, as a society, lose focus on the palliative and end-of-life care and support that is necessary to help people, even in the worst of circumstances, to live with dignity.

“And I worry that, over time, this shift in collective mindset will see the tightly drawn provisions of this bill extended much further.”

A consultation by McArthur ahead of the publication of his bill found 76% of the 14,038 people who took part fully supported such a change in law around assisted dying, with another 2% partially supporting it.

The LibDem MSP has also said he has had “constructive” conversations with the Scotland Office – and he has been encouraged by comments from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer around votes on assisted dying.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour MSPs to have free vote on assisted dying after Keir Starmer pledge

In March, Starmer pledged to change the law on the issue in the first term of a UK government he leads – although Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar has also said he is not minded to support a change.

Opponents of the legislation have said they fear it would see the lives of people who are ill or disabled being “devalued”, with the Bishop of Paisley John Keenan branding it a “dangerous idea”.

Former MSP and Yes Scotland chair Dennis Canavan, who has seen three of his children die from terminal illnesses, has urged MSPs at Holyrood to vote against the bill.

He said: “I have probably had more than my fair share of deaths in my family, having suffered the loss of four children, three of them as the result of terminal illness.

“My children undoubtedly underwent some pain, but it was minimised by caring health professionals. As a result, my children died in dignity and I do not accept that the option of assisted suicide is necessary to ensure dignity in death.”