CAMPAIGNERS are calling for assisted dying to be made legal in Scotland after New Zealand voted to approve euthanasia as an option for people with a terminal illness seeking medical assistance to end their lives.

A poll commissioned by Humanist Society Scotland, Dignity in Dying Scotland and Friends at the End (FATE) shows that more than three quarters of Scots (76%) want the Scottish Parliament to debate assisted dying after the Holyrood elections in May next year. 

A futher two thirds (66%) wish to see a commitment to introducing assisted dying in the political parties election manifestos.

It comes as preliminary results from New Zealand’s assisted dying referendum, the world’s first nation-wide vote on the topic, show that New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly (65.2%) in favour of legalising assisted dying.

A second question – “whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legal” – failed to garner the required 50% approval of the public, which would have been the first step in drafting a change in the law.

Fraser Sutherland, chief executive of Humanist Society Scotland, said Scotland should follow New Zealand's lead. 

"While other issues may dominate political parties and commentators, assisted dying remains a key priority of the wider population," he said. “The cruel fact remains that individuals are continued to be denied choices at the end of their life in Scotland.

"Yet those rich enough and well enough are able to access such options by travelling abroad at great personal expense. This must change."

Former SNP MSP Margo MacDonald (below) championed measures to make it easier for doctors to help terminally ill people end their life in a dignified manner. Her attempt was defeated in Holyrood in 2010. She died, aged 70, in April 2014. Her bid was taken up in 2015 by Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens’ co-convener. But his Assisted Suicide Bill also failed to get through the Scottish Parliament.

The National: The late Margo MacDonald summed up a debate in the Pairlament as a 'greetin meetin'

Ally Thomson, director of Dignity in Dying Scotland, said Scottish politicians should join other countries in legalising euthanasia.

She added: "As more countries legislate for assisted dying we ask that Scots politicians join them in showing leadership on delivering the rights that our dying citizens so desperately need.

"For dying people and their loved ones throughout the country this is not just an election issue – it is the reality of their lives and deaths and they are looking to the Scottish Parliament to deliver."

SNP activist Josh Aaron-Mennie has submitted a proposal to the SNP’s conference next month to review legislation after he nursed his beloved grandmother through “insufferable pain” at the end of her life.

READ MORE: SNP activist to appeal for assisted dying support