THE right to die is the last great human rights battle. To control the manner and the time of one's death is a right all human beings should be entitled to hold.

In the past, previous attempts to pass right-to-die legislation have floundered with parliamentarians and medics afraid of creating a slippery slope which could see the elderly or the infirm coerced into suicide by callous or greedy relatives.

However, the latest attempt to get such legislation through Holyrood comes with so many caveats and safeguards that we feel it a moral duty to lend our support to those behind the campaign, the lobby group Dignity in Dying Scotland.

The campaign group's new assisted dying draft bill would restrict the right to die to patients with a terminal illness only. In comparison, the previous bill rejected at Holyrood would have included ‘life-limiting’ illnesses so there was a fear that this could put elderly Alzheimer’s patients or the disabled at risk.

It is not “physician-assisted” in the sense that medics would have no role in the administration of a fatal dose. GPs, if they were willing to, would be legally allowed to prescribe a fatal dose, but the patient must be physically capable of administering it without assistance.

Patients must be mentally competent too, so the legislation can not apply to people with any form of mental illness.

These laws are already in place in many US states - the Oregon model is the blueprint for what campaigners want in Scotland - as well as Canada, and is being implemented this year in the state of Victoria in Australia.

Scotland, which has led the way in so many fights for equality, must summon its courage and move forward in this last great fight for the most fundamental of all human rights. That legislation will pass on the right to die is an inevitability. We have the chance now to act on a draft which is fair, safe and decent. History, and those suffering from horrific illness across the land, will rightly judge us at fault if we fail to act any longer.