NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is "more open" to legalising assisted dying in Scotland while admitting she still "really struggles with the issue". 

LibDem MSP Liam McArthur is currently consulting on a Bill that would introduce the right to assisted death for terminally ill and mentally competent patients.

The First Minister opposed proposed right-to-die legislation in 2015 but has now said she hasn't got a "concluded view" on the subject.

In an interview with the Record, she said she had been "moved" by the stories of people - or their families - who were facing terminal illnesses and she was thinking "very deeply" about the issue.

She said: “I haven’t come to a concluded view this time.

"It’s an issue I really struggle with. And I will have to come to a view on it before Parliament votes on it again, and I will.

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“I think my mind is more open to it than it perhaps has been in the past. And like everybody else, I am always very moved by people whose – themselves or family – whose terminal illness has meant they’ve been in a position where they think they perhaps would have wanted to have the right to assisted dying.

"Equally, and this is the thing I’ve always struggled to get over, is my concern about how would you ever put sufficient safeguards into a system, where you can be certain that people – elderly people in particular – didn’t almost feel a sort of pressure in some circumstances, or where it could be abused?

"The other thing which I feel strongly about, but this actually applies whatever route we take on assisted dying, is that allowing people to have good deaths through good palliative care is really important, and I think it’s vital we don’t lose focus on that.

"I’m still thinking very, very deeply about this issue myself."

Under McArthur's plan, two doctors would have to independently confirm the person meets the criteria for assisted dying and the individual would have to sign a written declaration.

His consultation has attracted over 10,000 responses.

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Former health secretary Jeane Freeman told the BBC in December she supports making assisted dying legal.

She said at the time: "My bottom line is I would want this for myself and my loved ones.

“If that is what I want, and I do, I can’t see how I could deny that to somebody else.”

McArthur welcomed the First Minister's comments and said she is not the only one who has said her view has shifted.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon is not alone in reviewing her position on this. Over recent months, we have seen a number of senior political figures from across the party spectrum describe how their position has changed and how they now support a change in the law.

“We will be publishing the results of an extensive public consultation in the coming months but it appears there continues to be strong public support for such a change.

“As my bill goes through the parliamentary process, I hope to fully convince the First Minister and many of her government colleagues of its merits.

“This bill is about giving adults with a terminal illness and mental capacity the right to a dignified death at the time of their choosing.”